Parts of new Ottawa equestrian complex to open next month

An extensive and detailed list of features at Ottawa's new equestrian park were unveiled Thursday with the equestrian park and nature trails set to open in May.

Equestrian park, campground to open as part of Wesley Clover Parks; other features to open later

Karen Sparks, her father Terry Matthews and Quervo: the father-daughter duo have unveiled their plans to revitalize the Nepean National Equestrian Park and lure top-flight show jumping to Ottawa. (courtesy of Karen Sparks)

A detailed $20 million redevelopment plan for Ottawa’s west-end equestrian park was unveiled Thursday with the equestrian park and nature trails set to open in the middle of May.

The National Capital Commission and the Wesley Clover Foundation, the philanthropic arm of Terry Matthews’ family, signed a long-term lease for Wesley Clover Parks in December 2013.

The City of Ottawa voted to end its lease of the park in July 2012 and the Matthews family stepped in.

The new facility, which is in the Greenbelt on Corkstown Road, will improve on camping and equestrian services, plus add a “significant outdoor team sports facility focused on soccer.”

“Equestrianism is obviously a major focus of ours, and our first efforts will be to reintroduce the riding school to the community,” said Karen Sparks, executive director of the new facility, in a news release.

Organic farming, home for royal swans coming

There was construction ongoing through the winter to upgrade the existing infrastructure so the equestrian park and campground could open in May.

More major construction is scheduled over the next several years as the facility remains open to the public.

The park has been split into activity areas including equestrian, sports fields, nature trails and educational stations, organic farming and an existing campground, according to the park spokesman, Steve Langford.

The list of proposed features are: 

  • Ian Millar School of Horsemanship, in collaboration with the 10-time Olympian from Ottawa.
  • World-class equestrian event campus for local and international competition.
  • Renovations of the existing infrastructure and major expansion of facilities for equestrian events.
  • Sheltered public seating.
  • New main show ring building.
  • Eight premium full-sized grass sports fields for soccer and other sports (which can be divided into a larger number of smaller fields).
  • New home for the royal swans.
  • Lake at the centre of the property.
  • New forest school, focused on early childhood education through connections with nature.
  • An improved trail network at the campground site and adjacent woodland.
  • Multiple yurts on the campground site which will be available for assorted activities.
  • Organic farming area.

More features will be unveiled in the coming months.

Some, including the home for the swans, are still in the early stages of planning and may need city approval.