New park space will make Kitchissippi greener

The play structure at Armstrong Park. A black fence is in the front.
Kitchissippi will soon have new public green space after two residential properties were purchased. Armstrong Park, viewed here, will be expanded. Photo by Charlie Senack

By Charlie Senack

New public green space is coming to Kitchissippi after land was acquired by the City in an unusual way. 

Kitchissippi ward Councillor Jeff Leiper said Ottawa used cash in lieu park funds to purchase residential properties in Hintonburg and Wellington Village. 

“Up until now, I’ve been using those funds according to a plan that we consulted six years ago with the community,” he said. “A lot of the funds have gone into improving our existing parks. But now there’s a desire by residents to acquire new land to turn into parks.”

The process began over a year ago when two side-by-side residential properties on Ladouceur Avenue came up for sale. Leiper had been consulting with the Hintonburg community, which said it needed more green space. He said City staff worked through their Christmas holidays to try and secure a purchase, but it fell through to another buyer. 

The idea never went away. Leiper revisited it months later when the city’s real estate department secured a deal for 115 Spencer St., a one-storey house on a corner lot. The house will soon be torn down to make way for a new park. 

“There will be public consultation, but as I talk to residents, there are some common themes that emerge,” said Leiper. “Plant a bunch of trees, put a nice fence around it, and put in a small children’s playground with some benches.”

A green house on Armstrong.
115 Spencer St. will be turned into a new park with a play structure, benches and trees. Photo by Charlie Senack

The new “pocket park” is welcome news for the Wellington Village Community Association. It has been looking for ways to add more green space to its dense urban landscape. 

“It will mean that residents no longer have to cross a busy, trafficked street to get to a park,” said community association member Tara Ouchterlony. “Since the loss of the tiny park on Grange Street in the late 1990s, we’ve been entirely without green space in this area. I think it will be appreciated.” 

One of the same properties on Ladouceur Street went on sale again last fall. The owner contacted Leiper’s office to see if the city was still interested. Just weeks ago, the City’s offer was accepted. The two-storey white brick house at 22 Ladouceur St. will soon be demolished and incorporated into Armstrong Park.

“We will put some sort of an asphalt path in and I’m talking to the community about pollinator gardens, maybe some fitness equipment,” Leiper said.

The outside of a house at 22 Ladouceur Street. It has a strong porch. It was taken as the sun was setting.
22 Ladouceur St. will be incorporated into Armstrong Park. Photo by Charlie Senack

He said Kitchissippi has a healthy cash-in-lieu-of-park fund due to the intense amount of development in the ward. When a developer builds a project that results in growth, the developer must allot a piece of land for public green space. When that’s impossible because there’s no space available, as is often the case in urban areas, the developer pays cash instead — around 10 per cent of the land’s worth. 

Sixty per cent of those funds go to the local ward’s park fund. The other 40 per cent goes to the City for the same use. This has happened for bigger projects, such as the Mooney’s Bay beach play structure or Lansdowne Park.

In the past, Leiper has used this fund to build the Van Lang and Laroche Park fieldhouses. Former Kitchissippi Councillor katherine Hobbs used it for a splash pad at Fisher Park.  

Leiper said timelines are fluid, and he’s optimistic the new park on Spencer St. will open by fall 2023. He hopes other residential properties can be purchased in the future to make way for more public greenspace.

“I don’t recall the last time we acquired residential land (for parks), so we are beating a new path on this one,” Leiper said.

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