Playground prososals will add to community, says Holmes

Matthew Lee, Centretown News

Matthew Lee, Centretown News

Somerset Ward Coun. Diane Holmes poses with playground equipment at McNabb Park.

Plans for redevelopment of McNabb Park, near the corner of Bronson and Gladstone avenues, have officially begun with a proposal by Somerset Coun. Diane Holmes to add a mini-soccer field, a skateboard park and a community garden.

Plans to redevelop the park will try to fulfill and combine the diverse nature of the Centretown community, says Holmes. Other suggestions include a renovated dog park area and new play equipment. Currently, the park remains an open green space with a couple of trees and a few playground sets.

“There have been many interests from various groups to see more active recreation in the downtown,” including avid gardeners and skateboarders, she says. “It’s a lovely piece of land in a great location.”

When the city approved its budget in February, the Community Garden Network was a key player, pushing to establish a garden at McNabb Park this year.

Hired staff and Holmes herself are responsible for the new design. However, Holmes says plans are likely to change because they’re still at a preliminary stage and she welcomes input from the  community.

An open house on March 27 at the McNabb Community Centre, led by Holmes, heard ideas on the planning of the redevelopment.  

Holmes says she hopes to have a budget of approximately $800,000.

Holmes says the timeline of the proposed plans is uncertain but in a flyer sent out on March 18 Holmes said that the redevelopment is set to begin this summer.

While news of the city’s plans to redevelop McNabb Park is gradually making its way to the members of the community, the Centretown Citizens Community Association says it remains optimistic for its future changes.  

“These are great additions to what McNabb Park already has, and encourages people to get out and do additional exercise,” says Robert Dekker, CCCA vice-president.

The current space is often used as a picnic and play area and has been booked as a venue for fundraisers.

New designs indicate that there are no plans to get rid of the already existing hockey rink or wading pool.

This recent proposal is one step of many for councillors to accommodate the growth of the community, says Dekker.

With current condominium developments in process, population in Centretown has been increasing.

“Green space is at a premium and there’s not a lot of space available,” he says.

“We need to look at the current ones we have and do some rejuvenating of those, whether through construction or whatever plans that has to be done to meet the needs of the community as it continues to grow.”

Jack Purcell Park, near Elgin Street, also received a recent facelift, with improved fencing and sitting areas, and its base-ball diamond was converted to a soccer field.

McNabb Park was established in the 1970s beside McNabb Community Centre, and is the largest green space in Ottawa’s downtown area.

“We’re leaving a good big piece of open green space for people to just come and picnic and enjoy the park without it being organized,” says Holmes. “I’m hoping there will be more groups and more people using the park as a result (of the new design).”