Tobi Nussbaum named new CEO of National Capital Commission

Rideau-Rockliffe Coun. Tobi Nussbaum has been named the new CEO of the National Capital Commission.

Ottawa city councillor to step down from seat, which will likely trigger costly byelection

Rideau-Rockliffe Coun. Tobi Nussbaum is the new CEO of the National Capital Commission. (Matthew Kupfer/CBC)

Less than two months after being re-elected to city council, Rideau-Rockliffe Coun. Tobi Nussbaum has been named the new CEO of the National Capital Commission.

Canadian Heritage Minister Pablo Rodriguez, who is responsible for the NCC, announced late Thursday that Nussbaum would take on the position, effective Feb. 4, 2019. Rumours have circulated this week that the councillor would be appointed to the post.  

The new position comes with a pay raise. Whereas a city councillor makes about $103,000, the NCC CEO's job comes with a salary ranging between $179,200 and $210,800.

It's also a more powerful position than that of city councillor, especially for Nussbaum, who had been sidelined by Mayor Jim Watson in the current council committee make-up.

The NCC oversees federal lands in both Ottawa and Gatineau, Que., official residences — including 24 Sussex — Gatineau Park and the Rideau Canal skateway.

Of course, the most prominent and challenging file for Nussbaum and the NCC will be LeBreton Flats, which is on the rocks since Senators owner Eugene Melnyk sued his partners in the redevelopment project.

Nussbaum is a bilingual, Harvard-educated, former diplomat who left the federal public service to first run for council in 2014. He was re-elected by a landslide last October.

In a statement, Nussbaum said he is "honoured to be asked to serve as the NCC's next CEO," adding that his top priority in the coming weeks will be to "develop a smooth transition plan to ensure both uninterrupted service to residents, as well as their effective representation at City Hall." 

Costly byelection likely on the way

Nussbaum will have to officially resign his seat early in the new year. Council will either have to appoint someone to represent Rideau-Rockcliffe — an unlikely scenario so early in the term — or call a byelection.

Ottawa's election staff estimate that a byelection could cost as much as $500,000, a consequence for which Nussbaum will likely be criticized. The byelection would happen in 2019.

The current CEO of the NCC, Mark Kristmanson, was first appointed in 2014 and his term will be up this spring. On Wednesday, the federal ethics commissioner announced Kristmanson has violated conflict of interest rules by accepting invitations from organizations the NCC does business with.