An important argument in favour of urban intensification — increased population density in central neighbourhoods — is that it generates higher demand for amenities and services, and more people to pay for them. Intensification should, in theory, bring improved transit and public health services, better-equipped community centres, and new sports and recreation facilities like arenas, pools, playing fields, and tennis and basketball courts.
But Capital Ward residents know we can’t count on population density to leverage more or better recreational amenities. Rather, we’re losing many traditional spaces to development and more people are competing to use what remains of existing facilities in increasingly space-challenged neighbourhoods.
In the past decade, instead of getting new, larger community centres, Old Ottawa South, the Glebe and Old Ottawa East have had to fight to hang on to and/or renovate old ones. Creative design generated more room in the modernized Old Firehall, but it’s not enough to meet demand. Heron Park, in the south end of our ward, continues to scrape by with a field house better described as a 50-year-old concrete bunker. This lack of functional space severely limits the possibilities for the programming and community meetings that are essential to a healthy neighbourhood.
As for open green space for organized games of ultimate, spontaneous soccer matches and community picnics, Old Ottawa South is reasonably well served. But Glebe residents have very limited options, and those in Old Ottawa East are about to see part of the heavily used open space at 160 Lees (actually part of the proposed Alta Vista Transportation Corridor) turned into a temporary parking lot to accommodate LRT construction.