More pickleball courts, no new wading pools in city's recreation plans
Public delegations worry how Ottawa will build facilities, expand parks in the core
The City of Ottawa has set targets for the new recreation facilities and parks it will need to build as the population grows, and it sees far more pickleball courts and splash pads, but no more lawn bowling greens or wading pools.
Many who addressed the community and protective services committee Thursday, however, were most concerned with how the city would add green space and sports facilities in older urban areas under pressure from development, while also meeting the needs of kids in disadvantaged areas.
"The outer rings have both the best school facilities and the best city facilities," said Leo Doyle, pointing to the big, modern recreation facilities in Barrhaven, Kanata and Orléans.
Doyle works with youth through the Ottawa Shooting Stars basketball league and said inner areas are sorely lacking city-owned, standard-sized gymnasiums and sports fields.
The Ontario government requires the city to map out this first-ever master plan for its parks and recreation facilities and tie it to its big new official plan. Both final documents will be voted on by city councillors in September.
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Staff took an inventory of 22 types of recreational facilities, from recreation centres to artificial turf fields to skateboard parks, and calculated how many exist per capita in various parts of the city.
39 new pickleball courts
The city has now set goals like having one recreation centre for every 50,000 people, instead of one for every 43,000.
It's also come up with a list of facilities it hopes to build over the next decade, including:
- a new 50-metre pool
- four community centres
- two arena ice surfaces
- 36 outdoor ice rinks
- two cricket pitches
- 44 grass sports fields
- six skateboard parks
Staff also see building 39 more pickleball courts. While Ottawa already far surpasses other Canadian cities when it comes to pickleball amenities, the number of local players is expected to double in the coming years — and no other sport attracted as many comments during virtual public meetings.
Many of the targets could yet change, recreation general manager Dan Chenier cautioned, because the city is waiting for updated population projections from colleagues working on the official plan.
Parkland per person
Some community associations argued the targets should be set at the neighbourhood level, not for vast sectors set out in the future official plan that combine areas as different as Alta Vista and Mechanicsville.
Residents of the City View area just west of Merivale Road described their lack of parks. The Hintonburg Community Association, meanwhile, said it's nowhere close to meeting the city's goal of two hectares of city park per 1,000 residents, and will end up with even less parkland as more infill development takes place.
"Parks, green space, open space is really vital when you have none of your own or very little where you live," said Hintonburg's Cheryl Parrott.
Staff explained the city will eventually need to buy property in older areas to deal with their lack of city parks.
After the recreation facilities plan is approved this fall, staff will come up with ways to acquire land, whether from the city's surplus, real estate purchases or the repurposing of existing facilities.
City staff will hold more community consultation on its plans for new recreational facilities from now until mid-June.