on November 26, 2015 by test_editor in Archive_2015, November, Print Articles, WEB-EXTRA content, Comments Off on November 26, 2015: When Is a Park Not a Park? Park development could benefit from public input.

November 26, 2015: When Is a Park Not a Park? Park development could benefit from public input.

November 26, 2015: When Is a Park Not a Park?
Park development could benefit from public input.

By Jeanne Inch.

Changes are coming to the designation and future use of Rochester Field on Richmond Road. Once known as the Thomson-Cole-Rochester Farm located at 529 Richmond, the property is now owned by the NCC and comprises the Keg Manor and the Gardens of Maplelawn as well as the vacant land – Rochester Park– to the west and north.

Today, it is little more than a place for local residents to walk their dogs with an occasionally mowed access path to the Parkway.

Under an agreement between the City and the NCC to use this land for light rail, it is proposed that most of the vacant land be preserved as open space, with what remains to be made available for development.

The changes could have a significant impact on the communities that use the field, especially since this part of the city has few green spaces.

At a meeting of the Planning Committee, anticipated for February, the proposed official plan amendment will maintain the Major Open Space designation on one-third of the property, and re-designate the easternmost two-thirds as General Urban Area. It is unclear whether there will be a public consultation prior to the February meeting.

According to Councillor Jeff Leiper, the precise zoning – stating what uses would be permitted in the new General Urban Area, for instance – would follow as the NCC continues to consult and plan for how to develop the remaining land.

Discussions on how to put Rochester Field to best public use and to control what development will happen on the rest of the land will be farther into the future, he said.

Meanwhile, the City and the NCC seem to have ignored the intent of the Richmond Road Westboro Community Design Plan (CDP) and Secondary Plan amended in June 2009.

In addition, the City’s official plan will reference the open green space and suggest maintaining it for community use. It will also support the NCC’s concept of a Linear Park.

Communities and neighbourhoods along the Sir John A. Macdonald Parkway are heavy users of Rochester Field, says Sybil Powell, President of the McKellar Park Community Association. She hopes the City engages residents of Westboro and Mckellar Park in a public consultation to develop a coherent vision for this major urban space.

Others are also concerned, neighbourhood children who play soccer at a competitive level for example. Their home pitch is likely located in Orleans, Kanata or Barrhaven. Other sports, such as Ultimate Frisbee, also have no presence in the community. Why?

As a former vice-chair of the City’s Parks & Recreation Advisory Committee, local resident Gary Ludginton approached the NCC about using Rochester Park for these sports and was told to deal with the City. The City responded that the NCC wanted market value for the use of the space – an arrangement which the City couldn’t afford.

The result is that this great space has not been, and may never be, put to optimum use to benefit the community. Nearby residents who use the space daily are ready with their ideas, e.g. a soccer pitch, a pedestrian and bicycle pathway, a dog park, but their suggestions are in vain if no one in a decision making position is willing to listen.

 

Late-addition: – Update from the Author;

Councillor Jeff Leiper has asked for an open house, in addition to the regular 28-day public and technical consultations undertaken by the city planning staff. The basic settlement to divide Rochester field is part of the package deal on the LRT route and is very general; Councillor Leiper says there is not much wiggle room to alter it. More important, he said, is how both parcels will evolve. What kind of park uses will the open space be put to? How dense will future development on the other space be?

For it’s part, The National Capital Region is advancing draft plans for the Sir John A Macdonald Linear Park, and that park will include the portion of Rochester Field west of Maple Lawn between Richmond Road and the Parkway. According to Stephen Willis, A/Executive Director, NCC Special Projects, alternative concepts are being developed for what he calls ‘…this important future gateway to the Linear Park’. The NCC does not generally provide lands for formal sports fields, since that is not part of its mandate (although it does have some leases with the City of Ottawa in parts of the city for sports). However, much of the NCC land base can be used more informally for recreational activities. The NCC will have public consultations in the new year on the Park plan.

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