By Allegra Newman –
At the corner of Island Park and Wellington, enveloped by often heavy and noisy traffic, is a tiny irregular piece of greenspace that buffers a residential neighbourhood. It’s partly owned by the City of Ottawa and the NCC.
On June 9, Kitchissippi Councillor Jeff Leiper organized a consultation at the Hintonburg Community Center to discuss four proposals for turning this area into a more usable parkette. Mizrahi Developments, who are building condos on the adjacent land, agreed to this under Section 37 of the Ontario Planning Act.
The turnout for the public consultation for Rockhurst Parkette was meager compared to the attendance at previous meetings about the proposed condo development on this corner. There were more planners, city staff and developers in attendance than actual residents. However, those in attendance had a lot to say about the proposed designs. There was an overall feeling that the plans had many positive aspects including a water feature and rock seating wall. People preferred the designs that had the seating located within the green space and not facing the traffic at the corner. As this space is used as a thoroughfare for pedestrians and bicycles wishing to avoid traffic on Island Park, there was discussion that an easy-to-use connecting pathway was required.
Participants also agreed there’s a need for a children’s playground.
“There are seven children within a block of this corner and dozens of kids in the nearby neighbourhood and no park that is accessible without crossing the major roads of Island Park, Wellington, Holland or Scott,” said one Garrison Street resident. Two of the four plans included a small playground design. Residents commented that a playground this close to a busy intersection needed to be fenced.
The one major aspect of the plans that disappointed local residents was the focus on the smaller city-owned portion of the land and not the larger triangular section close to Island Park that is owned by the NCC. Residents felt that incorporating NCC land into the parkette was an imperative as it would double the size of the greenspace and allow for a larger playground. The developer, Sam Mizrahi, concurred, as he felt that the NCC property was currently not well maintained. After being alerted to this discrepancy by a local resident, Councillor Jeff Leiper has reached out to the NCC and discussed the possibility of including this portion into the parkette design. He believes the NCC response has been positive. City staff at the meeting responded that they were unaware that this was a possibility but that they had an upcoming meeting with the NCC planned and would discuss it further.