Community Newspaper Columns

Room to move and play in a denser city

April 2017

With the City of Ottawa's intensification policies gradually translating into higher population density, it is essential that we invest in the kinds of infrastructure and institutions that residents expect in a livable city. Schools, libraries, health care and public transit come immediately to mind. Equally important, though, is an adequate and diverse supply of places to play and gather. These can be formal, such as community centres, pools, arenas and sports fields, or informal, such as greenspaces, play structures, multi-use pathways and riverside parkland.

There is a lot of movement in Capital Ward in response to this growing need. In fact, this is a time of considerable turnover, growth and long-term planning.

Brewer Park

Though Brewer Park is in Old Ottawa South, it is frequently use by Glebe residents, notably the rink, pool, fields and ball diamonds. Over the next five to 15 years, we can expect to see a lot of activity in some parts of the park, the result of a number of factors. These include changing demographics and shifts in the popularity of certain sports and activities; older facilities reaching the end of their viable life, meaning either major renovation expenses or taking a "clean slate" approach; and a strong community desire to reduce and consolidate the area currently used for driving through and parking on parkland.

An initial public meeting on March 23 marked the start of a multi-year process of listening, planning, seeking funding and then implementing whatever changes are agreed upon by Council. If you're worried about sudden change, you can relax. Apart from perhaps the short-term replacement of the dilapidated skate change building, the time frame is medium to long term. We can imagine considerable improvements to the amount of green space available for fields, as well as a highly functional, multi-sport complex in the northwest corner of the site. The future of the speed skating oval will also be considered.

Heron Park Community Centre

Heron Park has been making do with a 1960s cinder-block field house as its community building for the entire lifetime of most local residents. Limited in its uses and undersized for its needs, this building is due for replacement and residents deserve a proper, albeit small, community centre.

Thanks to a federal grant, recently announced by Ottawa South MP David McGuinty, the City is moving forward with plans to demolish the building, remove contaminated soil and build a new facility. I am working with the community on a design that is flexible, bright and showcases energy-efficient and healthy building features. The right "net zero energy" design would qualify for additional funding, allowing for a larger and more ambitious building than is possible with the funds currently allocated.

Old Ottawa East Community Centre

Quaint and cozy as the Old Town Hall may be, it is wholly insufficient for the fastest growing community in Capital Ward — perhaps amongst the fastest growing in the city, by the end of this decade. OOE needs a true community centre for recreational purposes, public events and gatherings, and potentially to house the Sandy Hill Community Health Centre's local services.
Conversations are ongoing with a number of community partners and the Regional Group, which is developing Greystone Village in the heart of the area. I hope this will lead to a viable future use of a section of the historic Deschâtelets building. What a win it would be to repurpose the building as a magnet for community uses and, once again, as a showcase for green building.

Grande Allée Park

The central boulevard from Main St. into the Greystone site, up to the Deschâtelets building, is being turned into the Grande Allée Park. A multi-year consultation and planning exercise led to a design that will provide a range of passive and active park spaces and gathering places for OOE residents new and old, and visitors too. Plans should be finalized in the coming year, with construction to follow.

Park upgrades

A series of upgrades to existing parks and greenspaces is planned for 2017 and 2018. These will include, but are not be limited to: the formal dedication of a "Fire Station Park" adjacent to the fire station on Fifth Ave. at O'Connor St., with modest physical changes; upgrades and equipment replacement at Dalhousie South Park in the Glebe Annex; and lighting replacement in Central Park East.

Pathways

Construction will start this year on the more formal multi-use pathway along the western shore of the Rideau River, notably in the section between the Lees transit station and Brantwood Park. Improvements will also be made to the Windsor Park pathway. Recent discussion has focused on if and how the river shore property adjacent to Greystone Village might be acquired by the City and formalized as parkland, to complete a continuous string of parks from Sandy Hill to Bank St. This would require a series of environmental studies and management plans. I will continue working towards such an outcome.