About Clive

A career on the front lines of the city.

Clive Doucet is a passionate urbanist. His life is all about cities: how they work; what people need from them; and how to make them better.  He was one of the original author’s of the “Federal Urban Domain”, the federal government’s first document to classify all of its urban lands.  His last book “Urban Meltdown: Cities, Climate Change and Politics as Usual” was short listed for the prestigious Shaughnessy/Cohen award for political writing.

As an Ottawa city councillor Clive was the leading advocate of a city-wide light rail system and co-founder of Ottawa’s O-Train.  He brought to city council a strong voice for creating a more sustainable city.  As a Mayoral candidate in 2010, his campaign was focused on sustainability and reducing city costs.  Presently, the capital is growing its roads twice as fast as its population.  Taxes can’t be controlled if road costs continue to increase at twice the rate as the population that pays for them.  He used examples like the extension of Terry Fox Drive, 45 million for 4.5 kilometres of new road and Alta Vista Expressway 55 million for 1.7 kilometers of new road as how not to manage a city successfully.

In 2010 Councillor Doucet won the Ottawa Consumers Choice Award for man of the year and in 2004 he received the Canadian Eco-Councillor of the Year award.

Beyond Ottawa

Clive’s influence reaches well beyond Ottawa. He is a much sought after speaker on urban affairs. In 2009 he spoke in Philadelphia at the Re-Imagining Cities: Urban Design After the Age of Oil conference sponsored by the University of Pennsylvania and Rockefeller Foundation.  This was a half century conference celebrating the conference that first brought together Lewis Mumford, Jane Jacobs and others.

In 2008 he was a Killiam lecturer at Dalhousie University, Halifax. In recent years he has also spoken on urban issues in Vancouver, Toronto, Montreal and Hamilton.]

His book Urban Meltdown:Cities, Climate Change and Politics as Usual is used in universities across North America.  Urban Meltdown was endorsed by former Toronto Mayor David Miller, the late Jane Jacobs, James Howard Kunstler and others.

Clive meets with professionals in cities whenever he travels. Recently in Chicago he had the pleasure of making the acquaintance of  Edward Uhlir,  Designer and director the world famous Millennium Park. A successful revitalization project turning rail yards into a waterfront public park.

Clive is not only an asset to Ottawa. He is an ambassador for the city to the world.

A political life

Clive entered politics in 1997 to combat the expansion of neighbourhood streets in arterial roads.  He championed the Ottawa O-Train pilot project instead of widening Bronson Ave. It won the Federation of Canadian Municipalities sustainable transportation award and its successor, the Siemens project, a national procurement award.

In 2002 he worked with former councillor Phil McNeely to create the financial plan for the Hay West campaign, which sent 30,000 tonnes of hay to the drought stricken western provinces.


Early years on the front lines.

As a student, Clive lived on Spadina  Ave. in Toronto and was active in the successful opposition to the Spadina Expressway.   He holds an honours B.A. in anthropology from the University of Toronto and an MSc in Urban Anthropology from Universite de Montreal.  At the Federal Ministry of Urban Affairs (MSUA) he was Manager of Communications, in the Demonstration Group, who were responsible for the restoration of the Vieux Port area in Montréal, (1978/79) where he organized the first of its now famous summer street festivals.

He also worked for the Ontario Department of  Treasury, Economics and Intergovernmental Affairs (TEIGA) as the Eastern Ontario Policy Advisor on local government reform and with the Federation of Citizens’ Associations in Ottawa coordinating participation of local community groups in the development of Ottawa-Carleton’s first Regional Plan.


Clive has written plays, novels, poetry and many commentary pieces for newspapers and magazines.  Three of his most successful books are “Notes from Exile” chosen by McClelland and Stewart as one of their 100 best books to celebrate their first 100 years of publishing; “My Grandfather’s Cape Breton” selected by the New Brunswick Board of Education for the provinces school system and “Urban Meltdown: Cities, Climate Change and Politics as Usual”.

He is married with two children and three grandchildren. When not working, he can often be found cycling in the Gatineau Hills, or rowing on the Rideau Canal.  He still competes in the old guys rowing category in head of river regattas.

18 Responses to About Clive

  1. Alex Gillis says:

    Just finished reading your book “My grandfather’s Cape Breton” Enjoyed it immensely. I spent several summers at my grandfather’s in (Gillisdale) South West Margaree during the 1940’s. Your book brought back such enjoyable vivid memories

  2. Janet says:

    Ottawa Voices Speak Out on the City’s Budget Choices
    When: Wednesday, February 16, 2011 at 6.30 p.m.

    Where: First United Church, 347 Richmond Road

    Food will be available at 6.30 p.m. There is NO CHARGE for this
    Hosting Organization: People for a Better Ottawa (PBO)
    *The Goal of Our Organization in hosting these workshops:* To engage Ottawa residents from diverse communities in the 2011 City budget process with an understanding that public budgets are about setting priorities and making choices
    *To bring together Ottawa residents from diverse communities to deliver a unified message about the need to protect community services and quality of life for all Ottawa residents. The focus will be on 4 major issues:
    o affordable housing
    o childcare
    o recreation
    o transit fares
    Resource People
    Ellen Russell, Senior Research Economist, Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives, asking the question: “Why are governments making communities pay the price for the mistakes of investors?”…

  3. gary fredrick palen says:

    greetings mr. Clive Doucet from gary palen in st john’s newfoundland –
    over the past year i have been researching my family history – and have discovered that my grandmother, who died before i was born, marie elisabeth poirier, was acadien from the gaspe – family ‘originally’ from bonaventure then moved to cap d’espoire & l’anse de beaufils – i had no idea that our family had acadien roots – i have read up a great deal on this history, including your book “Exile” – and visited the gaspe this year to understand more of the feeling of the place and contact local archivists – i will be in the ottawa are for a couple of weeks in april 2011, and wonder if it would be possible to meet with you
    my search seems to have awakened ancestral memories which i find very powerful in understanding ‘who i am’
    thanks for your writing about your own history and articulating some of the acadien values that are obvious in your own life
    best wishes for a happy and peaceful spring
    gary palen

  4. Anita Utas says:

    Happy to see your blog, Mr. Doucet. A link to your recent posting, “What does a sustainable city look like?” was posted on the Facebook page of the supporters for the South March Highlands Beaver Pond forest. I heard you were at one of the events there recently. Thank you for your support! I’m looking forward to reading more of your posts.

  5. Clayton Dignard says:

    Hi Clive,

    Hate to bother you about this, but i seem to be having a bit of difficulty about some donations that I made to your campaign at city hall and don’t know where else to contact you. Please give me a shout at my e-mail and I’ll explain. Tx and take care, c

  6. greg m says:

    Hi Clive
    I’m looking to do a very brief interview / get a statement from you on the role of developers in the city. If you could please contact me, or comment with a way to get in touch with you, it would be much appreciated. thanks! (ps need it by Monday Feb 14 at the latest, or maybe Tues morning)

    • Clive says:

      It’s not so much that developers have too much power as city hall refuses to exercise the powers it has to control them. City Hall could buy greenspace with cash in lieu from developers, they don’t. They could control heights, through zoning, they don’t. Zoning is nothing more than a statement of intention. The city would like to protect heritage area, community quality of life, greenspace etc. but almost never does. The developer almost always wins both at Council and at the OMB (90% of the time). Most councillors think this is a good thing as long as its not in their ward and people protest. This has been true for a very long time.

  7. Caroline Bowden says:

    Dear Clive,

    The GNAG Theatre Education Program would be delighted to have you not only enjoy our latest production, gleeBE the Musical, but would also like to invite you to take part in a performance. The show runs from April 1 to April 3, with matinees on the Saturday and Sunday.

    If you are interested either in seeing the show or appearing in it, would you please email me, so I can give you more details?

    Thank you very much in advance.

    Best regards,
    Caroline Bowden
    Publicity – GNAG Theatre Education Program

  8. Donnie Garrow says:

    Hi Clive,

    I was very much behind your plan for surface rail for the city and am still puzzled as to why more people cannot get behind this idea. I unfortunately still stumble upon City Hall apologist, Randall Denley’s column, from time to time. Recently (today, I think) he took some councillors to task for their desire to speed up the LRT project so that it could be in place for the Canada 150 celebrations in 2017. I think that’s still far too long of a time frame for those of us who heavily invest into our transit system, not to mention contributing to the city’s revenue through property taxes. Anyways, in the column, Denley makes this assertion:

    “Councillors want something, and they want it now, but they have to remember that there is no attractive alternative to this plan. Some still like rail on the surface, but it doesn’t provide the transit volume needed in the future and the federal money is for the tunnel project, not surface rail.”

    Is this statement true? Was the federal money specifically for the tunnel project? If yes, could the project still be done (surface rail) without the federal contribution? If no, do you see a way that folks who actually stand to benefit from a better transit system that includes surface rail, can change the current approach to something that makes more sense for us? You can email me if you want, I’d love to talk to you more about this if there is still anything to talk about. Thanks.


  9. Loretta Fleming says:

    I am interested in galvanizing the recent and overwhelming community outrage to the $22 million cut to OC Transpo and to its Optimization Plan. As a transit user, and interested citizen, I am looking to spread the word, and keeping this issue front and centre on the municipal agenda.

    For anyone who attended the Open House on March 31, 2011, at the Nepean Sportsplex, where many hundreds of citizens and residents lined up to speak against these cuts, you might have shared my excitement about the community’s spontaneous and swift condemnation of these cuts. Single moms, retired women, business associations, community associations, and shift workers repeated the same message; we need an affordable and accessible transit system that meets the economic, educational, medical and social needs of its ridership. We need expansion, not devolution.

    I must congratulate the staff of OC Transpo, who have been working to optimize the system within these proscribed cuts. I was informed by Councillor Dean’s office, who is also the Chair of the Transit Commission, that many of the proposed changes by citizens have been addressed. I am a bit cynical about a process and a transit system where bus fees continue to rise, and service is being reduced. None of the people making these decisions even rides the bus, nor understands its critical role in the life of Ottawa.

    This is the most drastic cut that OC Transpo has experienced in recent history, and for those interested in the environment and a liveable city, a step backwards.

    The OC Transit Commission will be dealing with the Optimization Plan at its meeting on April 20, where interested citizens, and community groups can voice their concerns and make recommendations for improvements. I would encourage anyone interested in a sustainable, environmentally viable, affordable and accessible transportation system to speak at this meeting.

    All you need to do is contact the OC Transit Commission at 580-2424 ext. 21624 to book your spot. If you haven’t already voiced your opinion on this important urban affairs issue which affects many people in our community, especially those without cars and without the means to purchase one, I would encourage you to call your Councillor, the Members of the OC Transit Commission, and the Mayor. The listing for OC Transit Commission members can be found at:

    With the federal election now taking the time and energy of many concerned citizens, I would urge you to use a small portion of yours to support to a transit system that reflects the economic, social and environmental needs of this City and the planet. As a community, we could use these cuts to introduce a more creative response to moving people around in this large and diverse urban centre.


    Loretta Fleming

  10. Henry Beissel says:

    Hi, Clive:

    I hope this will reach you. Since you’re no longer a City Councillor, I fear this is not a working email address for you. So, I shall send a copy of this via your website too.

    Anyway, the reason for my contacting you is that the Board of Directors of the Humanist Association of Ottawa decided to invite you to speak to them at our meeting on June 10th on the Lansdowne Park issue. No doubt you would make this part of your vision of what viable cities in the future will look like.

    I’m a member of the Board and was asked to contact you. I’m hoping that you’ll be available at that time and that you’ll want to address us on the issue. The specific arrangements are to be made with Sheila Ayala who is the HAO speakers covener. I’d be grateful if you could let me know if we can count on you.

    Actuallyy, I’ve been waiting to hear from you for a while. You remember we met last in the foyer of the NAC, and you mentioned that you’d written a few plays you were hoping to get produced. You said you’d contact me about them in case I could suggest venues for production.

    At the time I was in the midst of rehearsals for Antigone, which I had adapted in a modern version for Third Wall Theatre. I don’t know whether you managed to get to see it, but eryone tells me it was a great success. The theatre claims they haven`t had such general praise before ever. The show played to sold-out houses throughout the second week, and the critics have been more than generous about the script. No doubt you saw some of the reviews.

    I look forward to hearing from you.

    It’s a lousy day, but I prefer to think of things that cheer me.



    • Clive says:

      Dear Henry Beissel,

      Congratulations on Antigone. I had many friends go to it and report it was terrific. It was first on my list of plays to attend, but I got the closing date confused. I thought it finished on the 8th and to my regret I missed
      it. Perhaps, it will be mounted again and I will get another chance to see it.

      Thank-you for your invitation to speak on Lansdowne. Unfortunately, I will not be in Ottawa at that time. I am leaving for Istanbul on May 1st for six months of travel and will not be back in Ottawa until October. I would have loved to accept the invitation because it is an issue that I feel very deeply about. The abrogation of Lansdowne Park by three developers for a
      mall was considered by the Globe and Mail as the worst thing to happen to a Canadian city in 2009. I believe they are right. No city that respects itself gives away the oldest public space it owns, the site of much of the
      city’s history, next to a Unesco World Heritage Site. It’s like Toronto handing over Nathan Philips Square to a hotel developer or Sydney giving away the Sydney Opera Site to a mall developer. It’s nothing less a crime
      against all that makes sense for the residents of our city.

      I would be pleased to do is write you a letter about Lansdowne from Istanbul for your June 10th meeting and after June 10th I will post it on my blog ‘of cities and philosophy’. You are welcome to use the letter any way
      that seems appropriate.

      As for my own ideas about stage plays, I have various ideas, none of them I have time to pursue right now. One of them was to do as you have done with
      Antigone, re-craft a long narrative poem I wrote called ‘Looking for Henry’ for the stage. Another one is to start a Festival of Greek plays in Ottawa “The Socrates Festival”. It would be a festival with a spotlight on Greek plays and the history of dissent, – the plays, songs, poems, books that have taken dissenting views to the gospels of the moment. If this idea intrigues you, I would be very pleased to work on it upon my return.

      Kind Regards,

      Clive Doucet

  11. Claire L says:

    Hello Mr. Doucet,

    You wrote a book of poetry “Looking For Henry” and I am the daughter of Henry. I was wondering if you have an email address that I can contact you at as I’d like to pass on a message to you. Hopefully you’ll have my email from above 🙂

    Thank you,

  12. Diana B says:

    Hello Clive,
    It looks like you may still be traveling at the time, but the Peace and Environment Resource Centre (PERC) would like to invite you to participate in our Visioning event on the evening of September 22nd, 2011. We’re inviting those who know about the PERC’s work and other community members who are involved in peace, social justice, and environmental issues to help us explore how we can best meet the needs of the community. The details are on our website at http://www.perc.ca. Thank you for your support over the years and if you will be in town, we would love to see you; if not, we look forward to your next blog post!

  13. Alisdair MacRae + Negar Seyfollahy says:

    Dear Clive,
    My partner Negar and I are facilitating four free workshops to design and build a public art project for the Glebe Community Centre. Using the theme of additions and interventions, forms developed by workshop participants will become the installation.

    We invite you, and anyone else who has a passion for the urban environment, to participate. To register, contact the Glebe Neighbourhood Activity Group at 613-233-8713 or go to http://www.gnag.ca/index.php?page=183

    Thank you,

    Alisdair MacRae

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