Pickleball? Dog parks? City wants to update its rec centres

Ottawa's aging recreation complexes need major overhauls and the city is looking to residents for what to do and where to start. 

Aging facilities need work, city drafting a plan to decide where to start

Stittsville Coun. Glen Gower (not pictured) says his residents want more dog parks in their suburb. (Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

As Ottawa looks to overhaul its aging recreation complexes, the city is looking to residents for their opinion on what to do and where to start. 

According to a 2017 report, nearly half of Ottawa's recreational facilities — including pools, arenas and rec centres — were in poor or very poor condition. 

The city held four consultations this week to hear what residents want out of the buildings.

"There are some facilities we might repurpose," said Kevin Wherry, Ottawa's manager of recreation planning and facilities.

"Perhaps we have a better use to come out of those … Changing trends in recreation might mean we need to rethink how we use our indoor facilities,"

Kevin Wherry is Ottawa's manager of recreation planning & facility development. (Matthew Kupfer/CBC)

Stittsville Coun. Glen Gower said residents often talk to him about their needs in the growing suburb.

"The top three things we hear about are probably pickleball, ice time for all the different sports that use ice pads, and dog parks," Gower said.

Non-recreational uses

The city consultation also lists "decommissioning" facilities as one of its topics, though Wherry said that is more about repurposing existing city assets.

City staff have raised the possibility of using some land near the LRT that is occupied by facilities, such as the Tom Brown Arena, for affordable housing.

Wherry said those discussions are far off.

Tom Brown Arena is near the Bayview transit station, which is where Ottawa's two light rail lines meet. (Steve Fischer/CBC)

"If Tom Brown comes off the table for one reason or another because of where it's located, it would need to have a replacement close by because Tom Brown is a very busy asset," Wherry said.

"It wouldn't be wise or advantageous for us to simply take an asset offline because there's an LRT nearby. What we would have to look at is what opportunity it represents to improve recreation access nearby." 

Gower said he would want any facility removed to have its services replaced in some way.

He called the idea of using rec centre sites for housing "a really interesting idea."

Stittsville Coun. Glen Gower says the main recreation facility issues he hears about have to do with pickleball, ice times and dog parks. (Matthew Kupfer/CBC)

Cumberland Coun. Stephen Blais said land needs to be set aside in growing communities to make sure there is space for rec centres.

"I think there is a need for more recreation, not less recreation," Blais said. 

"Whether or not the state of that actual building or not leads us to need to do make certain decisions, we'll let the process and the experts on building management define that."

One possible emerging trend could be an increase in demand for basketball because of the Toronto Raptors championship run, Blais said, since after the Toronto Blue Jays championship run in the early 1990s there was a greater focus on baseball fields.


Matthew Kupfer

CBC Reporter

Matthew Kupfer has been a reporter and producer at CBC News since 2012. He can be reached at and on Twitter @matthewkupfer


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