Letter to the editor: Curling club redevelopment a ‘pandora’s box’ for green space

Dear Editor,

I was surprised by your paper’s reporting on the redevelopment of Lion’s Park (December issue), which only presented one side of the highly contentious and precedent-setting proposal.

This redevelopment – I call it encroachment – has a great impact on our community, for adjacent residents and the users of this small legacy park that sits between Elmgrove and Ashton Avenue.

The pre-application meeting on October 30, which took place in the clubhouse, gave community members less than 10 days to respond. Granite Curling Club members, who had prior knowledge about the meeting and strong self-interest to attend, were disproportionately represented. I would refute Greg Mathieu’s assertion that the redevelopment will have minimum impact on residents in the north end of Westboro.

The redevelopment of a city park for development purposes is unprecedented, and could now mean any and all city park lands will be open for redevelopment. I fear Clare, McKellar, Hampton, Champlain and Iona parks will be subject to the same fate if this proposal is accepted.

For the residents of Ashton, Winona and Elmgrove, the placement of the Granite Curling Club in the park will see increased noise during and after construction in the park, increased traffic on streets with aging infrastructure and no sidewalks. Many trees will be removed and the open green space will disappear.

The result of this proposed land swap reconfigures open green space to the periphery of the park, with proposed walkways and landscaping around the newly constructed Granite Curling Club.

With the fierce development on Scott Street, the community needs more public park space, not less. Green space in parks exists for itself; for the pleasure of its users.

Lion’s Park, in existence for 60 years, is the only community park from Golden to Island Park in Westboro’s north end. It is used by day camps, daycares, the clients of the Ottawa Gymnastic Club, and of course the surrounding residents.

As I write this, the climate change emergency data challenges Canada to meet its Paris Accord targets by 2030, which we as a country are sorely lagging behind. Why would the community accept the removal of mature trees when we know their role in reducing CO2 levels? In this ward, approximately 4,000 trees have already been lost due to intensification. – a travesty, really.

As covered by the CBC, members of the Club’s Redevelopment Committee stated that this option would guarantee the continuation of their curling season without any significant interruptions. Once the Granite Curling Club members have played their weekly eight ends, they will return to their homes, with little disruption to their lives and lifestyle. Not so for the residents and users of the park, where our green space will disappear, noise and traffic increase and yet another substantial change to the streetscape and the integrity of limited park land will happen.

And remember, parks are free and accessible to all citizens. Parks are the foundation of liveable cities. I would encourage the club to reconsider this present proposal and find a solution that meets the needs of the community, the environment, and those of its membership. This proposal is a pandora’s box that will have far reaching consequences for city green space in this ward and across the municipality. I am sure that this is not the intended legacy that the Granite Curling Club members want to be associated with.

Come on Westboro, we can do better than this.

Loretta Fleming

Leave a comment