Linking Canada's Capitals

National Capital Region

Photo credit: National Capital Commission
January 1

About the National Capital Region

The National Capital Region, which includes the cities of Ottawa and Gatineau, represents the symbolic heart of our great country. It is the centre of our democracy, and a symbol of the country’s collective history, heritage, culture, values and natural features. It is also one of the six million-plus metropolitan areas in Canada and has a thriving economic and cultural life of its own, a fitting representation for a country that is now 80% urban.

About the National Capital Commission

Every day, the National Capital Commission (NCC) works to ensure that the National Capital Region is a dynamic and inspiring source of pride for all Canadians, and a legacy for generations to come.

The NCC is the federal urban planner and approval agency in the National Capital Region. In this role, the NCC looks decades ahead to ensure that the planning, development, conservation, and improvement of the Nation’s Capital reflects its significance as Canada’s seat of national government. The NCC fulfills its mandate through the following areas of activity:

Design excellence

Planning for a capital city must highlight government and parliamentary functions, and must embrace the aspirations of nation building, belonging, memory, ritual and visual quality. Every effort is made to ensure that the Canadian capital is a distinctive, vibrant and sustainable metropolitan region.

The NCC promotes excellence in the planning and design of federal projects, in accordance with the character and significance of Canada’s Capital.

Here is the NCC’s Planning Framework:

NCC plans

Plans and policies are used by NCC staff to guide the decision-making process. To view these plans, click here.

Plan for Canada’s Capital

The overarching planning document is the Plan for Canada’s Capital. This is the highest-level document, providing long-term, strategic direction and policies for the use, management and design of federal lands in the Capital. The policies of this plan are reviewed approximately every 10 years.

Impact Assessment Act

The Impact Assessment Act (IAA) is an important decision-making tool for projects on federal lands which aims to avoid and/or minimize impacts to the environment, and to promote environmental compliance with other acts and regulations.

Conservation of federal heritage buildings and sites

The NCC provides policy direction and a planning framework to all federal departments and agencies in the National Capital Region, including the NCC itself, for the responsible planning and management of heritage assets. This function is delivered in collaboration with the Parks Canada Agency, especially the Federal Heritage Buildings Review Office (FHBRO).

Archaeological resources

Archaeological resources are an integral part of the region’s heritage, and are taken into account in the planning phase of projects. These resources may either be pre-contact in nature, consisting of the physical evidence of land use and occupation by Indigenous peoples prior to the arrival of Europeans, or relate to the history of settlement and occupation of the region by Euro-Canadians. Archaeological resources are non-renewable, and are protected in federal jurisdictions. The NCC works closely with the Kitigan Zibi Anishinabeg and Algonquins of Pikwakanagan First Nation through its Protocol for the Co-Management of Archaeological Resources (2017).

NCC Urbanism Lab

The NCC’s Urbanism Lab is an innovative space where Canadians and leaders in urbanism, design, heritage and conservation, sustainability, and placemaking get together to inspire the future of the National Capital Region. To discover the variety of topics for the 10th season, click here.

Indigenous Engagement

Indigenous peoples have a long history in the National Capital Region. This is and must continue to be a defining element of the Capital. The Plan for Canada’s Capital, 2017–2067, underlines the important place that the Algonquin Nation has had in the past, and will continue to have in the future of the Capital. The NCC has worked with the Algonquin Nation in a spirit of true friendship and collaboration for many years on a variety of projects. Learn more about Indigenous engagement.

NCC Approval Process

The approval responsibilities of the NCC are fundamental to its mandate as the federal planning and coordinating agency within the National Capital Region.

The approval process has the following objectives:

  • to coordinate land use, development and other works on federal lands in order to reinforce and positively contribute to the unique character, identity and quality of the Capital “in accordance with its national significance”;
  • to ensure that federal properties and buildings are effectively planned and developed to standards and criteria appropriate to their location and context in the Capital; and
  • to implement federal legislation and NCC approved plans, and other environmental and heritage policies.

For more information please visit:

Photos of the National Capital Region

Parliament Hill in fall Photo credit National Capital Commission
Parliament Hill in the fall
Photo credit: National Capital Commission
Ottawa–Gatineau Cityscape Photo credit National Capital Commission
Ottawa–Gatineau Cityscape
Photo credit: National Capital Commission
Mackenzie King Estate in Gatineau Park Photo credit National Capital Commission
Mackenzie King Estate in Gatineau Park
Photo credit: National Capital Commission
Rideau Canal Skateway at night Ottawa Photo credit National Capital Commission
Rideau Canal Skateway at night, Ottawa
Photo credit: National Capital Commission
Mer Bleue Bog National Capital Greenbelt Photo credit National Capital Commission
Mer Bleue Bog, National Capital Greenbelt
Photo credit: National Capital Commission
Gatineau Park in the fall Photo credit National Capital Commission
Gatineau Park in the fall
Photo credit: National Capital Commission