Glebe residents urged to put green thumbs to work in proposed Lansdowne park

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mar24

Area residents examine a map of the proposed design for Lansdowne Park. It would have 10 different areas, including a Great Lawn and community gardens. Photograph by: Jean Levac, Ottawa Citizen

By SNEH DUGGAL, Ottawa Citizen

In order for the planned urban park at Lansdowne to move forward, a group of passionate locals with green thumbs might have to step forward to help care for an on-site orchard.

“What we’re trying to explore is giving residents in the neighbourhood an opportunity to participate in the park,” said Marta Farevaag, a partner of the firm designing the public space, adding that the idea is open to change pending public input.

About 60 residents packed into the Glebe Collegiate cafeteria on Wednesday night for the first of two public meetings on the urban park. The refurbishment of Frank Clair Stadium and the development of 340,000 square feet of commercial space — being overseen through a public-private partnership between the city and the Ottawa Sports and Entertainment Group — are also part of the plan for the project.

Architects with Phillips Farevaag and Smallenberg (PFS) are in Ottawa this week to get public input on their proposed design plan. The Vancouver-based firm beat out four others shortlisted in the design competition for the public space.

The urban space would have 10 different elements including the Aberdeen Pavilion, the Horticulture Building, a Great Lawn that would hold about 10,000 people, as well as a children's garden, an outdoor curling rink and community gardens. The planned rink would be placed east of the Aberdeen Pavilion.

"I think with the small portion of land that they have to work with, they put a lot of thought into it," said resident Linden Holmes, who stirred the rest of the room into applause. "I'm quite impressed with the plan."

Holmes said one thing she would like included in the space is a more natural area for people to walk through.

Several programming ideas for the space were also discussed. They included having the Ottawa Farmer's Market on site throughout the year, hosting the finish line for the Ottawa Marathon and holding Winterlude activities.

The Horticulture Building would be home to studio space, a skate rental booth, a café and offices needed for park management, said Jeffrey Staates, a principal at the firm.

The firm's original proposal included an artificial island in the middle of the canal and a bridge that would connect the site to Old Ottawa East, but these two elements were eliminated when the design was first selected.

After some residents expressed concern last year about how the existing Sylvia Holden Park at the corner of Bank Street and Holmwood Avenue would fit into the redevelopment, architect Greg Smallenberg said many of its features were "very comfortably residing in our drawings."

Meanwhile, a court challenge, launched by Friends of Lansdowne, is threatening to push back the start date for construction. The group claims bylaws and resolutions approved by city council last June are tainted by "illegality."

While the challenge was set to be heard early next month, it has been postponed until late June.

Work on the stadium was to have started in May and been completed by June 2013. The disputed move of the horticultural building was set to happen between May and September, but this might also be delayed until the fall.

The firm will be developing a detailed design plan for the park within the next few months. Various programming ideas are being considered and will go before city council this summer.

The next meeting will be held tonight in the main hall of the Ottawa South Community Centre from 6-9 p.m.

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