The ParThe provincial government mandates the Parks and Recreation Facilities Master Plan to look at population growth. Based on the estimated population growth in Ottawa over the next 10 years, the City has devised a plan to recommend to the City what and how many facilities need to be built to meet and maintain recommended provision levels (resident to facility ratio).

Ottawa’s population is expected to grow by 155,000 people over the next 10 years, bringing the estimated population of 2031 to 1.2 million. The Official Plan divides the City into six geographic policy areas, called transects. Lowertown, Sandy Hill and Vanier are part of the downtown core and inner-urban transects for reference. These transects are expected to grow by 13,180 and 17,658 people, respectively, in the next 10 years. 

Here are some considerations to know about our community: https://mathieufleury.ca/my-thoughts-and-considerations-on-ottawas-ward-boundaries/

To summarize, we are the oldest community in our City, which means we have the most aged facilities that are the least modern to promote standard play areas. Many programs and sports cannot benefit from our community centres and pools because they do not meet the most basic needs to practice and play. Our community is the lowest income in the City. We are looking for the City to rebalance the investments in new sport and recreations spaces, precisely indoors, like sports complexes, gymnasiums, and community centres to support the renewal and modernization of facilities and ensure modern rooms.

The current growth plan does offer some opportunities for growth-related improvements. Still, it does not get to the more profound challenges we face. These challenges include old and underperforming recreation and sports facilities and inadequate programming levels to support our diverse community needs (i.e.: youth, older adults, and racialized community members). The future Recreation Asset Management Plan, to begin in 2024, offers some limited hope in bringing new opportunities for a modern field of play for residents who live within the urban communities.

To learn more about the need for recreation facilities in the core, visit the following blog post: https://mathieufleury.ca/new-recreation-facilities-needed-in-the-core/ .

Throughout our engagement and reviewing of the Master Plan, we have focused on the following six facility types: recreation complexes, community centres, pools, arenas, rectangular fields, and gymnasiums. We placed a heavier focus on these because they offer the most opportunities for recreation and sports programming. For example, gymnasiums provide a variety of sports and activities different to that of a baseball field. 

After our reading of the final draft, and numerous meetings with city staff, we were left with many concerns, iAfter reading the final draft, and having numerous meetings with City staff, we were left with many concerns, including the simple growth review to be defined as a Master Plan. On September 27th, at the special joint meeting of the Community and Protective Services and Planning Committee, we brought forward four motions to help advance the Plan. These motions consisted of three amendments and one direction to staff.

The first pertains to the recommendations made for the provision of recreation complexes. 

We brought two amendments to this section. 

The first pertains to the recommendations made for the provision of recreation complexes. We brought two The first amendment added that following the implementation of the already planned Riverside South complex, future facilities be considered by area of most significant needs. The transects with the lowest provision levels (Downtown Core, Inner Urban, and Outer Urban) should be on the priority list for new recreation complexes. The second amendment adds that when considering the location of a new recreation complex, the proximity to workers is taken into account. This aims to address that just because someone may live in Orleans if they work downtown, they may be inclined to use a recreation facility close to their workplace. 

This, in a way, increases the usage of facilities in the urban transects. 

The second relates to the recommendations made for arenas. 

To help mitigate the loss of recreation space, I requested that if a decommissioned single pad arena be moved to another site, the surplus of space remains a City asset and be considered for other recreation uses or public benefit. 

We can always do better when it comes to community spaces, and the need for more of these spaces is highlighted in the Master Plan. While it’s great to upgrade facilities in the market like single pad arenas, it would be irresponsible to lose that critical City recreation asset altogether when it can still serve an essential purpose to the community.

The third motion we brought forward relates to gymnasiums. The Master Plan recommends the addition of 3 new gymnasiums counting gymnasiums that fall under a shared-use agreement. We feel that it is more critical for the City to invest in City-run gymnasiums rather than rely on school boards. Having contracts with school boards also limits the times that it is available for use, and remember we represent the oldest part of the City which also means we have the oldest schools. City-owned gyms create the opportunity for daytime programming that will significantly benefit seniors and folks who work outside the traditional 9 to 5. Additionally, with increasing extreme heat days and the need for cooling centres, City-owned gyms will help fulfill this growing need and make our communities more resilient and more prepared for climate impacts. As a result, we asked that the following be included as a strategy statement under the gymnasium section: The city re-commit to prioritizing the development of City-owned and City-run gymnasiums and improve provision levels as opportunities arise. 

Lastly, we brought forward a direction to staff concerning indoor pools. Seeing as all pools are not created equal, we directed the City to review the pools with shortcomings in standards and program needs to determine which transect the subsequent aquatic investments should be located. This was to ensure that staff look at pools with a more critical eye and see that while a pool may exist, its capacity for use and programming does not always meet the standards of other “standard” pools in the City.

While we are glad about the outcome of our motions, we must keep the pressure on the City and ensure that the recommendations are followed, and those much-needed facilities are built in areas where they are most needed. I encourage you to read document 4 in this Parks and Recreation Master Plan report, which includes an analysis of recreation facility needs accompanying the Master Plan and an overview of some of the more prevalent facility-related service delivery challenges.

In conclusion parks, recreation and sport facilities are welcome by all living in Ottawa.  The form some of the most enjoyable experiences for all residents to learn, to exercise, to socialize, to perform and to host.  These facilities are

In conclusion, parks, recreation and sports facilities are welcome by all living in Ottawa. They form some of the most enjoyable experiences for all residents to learn, exercise, socialize, perform, and host. These facilities are enjoyed by kids, families, newcomers, seniors, by everyone and ensure that the City captures the right level of revenue from each new development to see new facilities constructed. This Plan accompanies the Offical Plan will be followed by a revision of the Development Charge By-Law to ensure its growth objectives ratio levels are achieved.

If you are interested in learning more about the Sport community in Ottawa, how it has been doing through COVID, existing opportunities and risk, as well as some of the successes, please read my Sport Commissioner’s update which was recently presented to Council.