I can’t say it enough—Ottawa is a beautiful city. It’s easy to find a bit of peace in nature when you have multi-use pathways with river views, connecting the Greenbelt to Gatineau Park and beyond.
It may be true that we are a government town (with a creative side), but that comes with the perk of some pretty excellent infrastructure. The National Capital Commission (NCC) is an organization dedicated to making Ottawa-Gatineau a place that feels like a place of national significance. I’m a huge fan of their work.
One of the NCC’s upcoming projects is the Sir John A. Macdonald Riverfront Park. The proposed linear park will stretch over 9 kilometres along the Ottawa River, between LeBreton Flats in the east and Mud Lake (near Britannia Park) to the west. The NCC is seeking to make this space into a vibrant and exciting destination, a place where people want to go and feel safe while being there. It will bring more access to the river, through recreational and public spaces, more park space, and enhancement of the natural environment and habitats.
Public Feedback – that means you!
Until February 11, the NCC is collecting feedback on the draft plan before moving towards approval by their Board of Directors. There is an online survey, but the draft plan is 133 pages.
TL;DR? We’ve got you.
What is planned for this Park?
Here’s a summary of Section 5, which is what the survey is asking about. (It’s a very manageable 35 pages with lots of pictures and diagrams, if you’re interested).
There are four main areas of the park. All sectors include plans for increased public facilities including washrooms and water fountains, cultural interpretation which will include the significance for Algonquin-Anishinabeg peoples, habitat protection, and stormwater management.
The NCC has a medium-term objective of reducing vehicle traffic along the Parkway, eventually converting some lanes to commuter cycling routes and park space.
Sector A · Mud Lake/Britannia Conservation Area to Deschênes
Major Project: Create an on-water, river-edge boardwalk between the Pinecrest Creek pathway and the Deschênes lookout. (This is subject to more detailed studies and regulatory approvals).
Public Spaces: Increase trail interconnectivity and add a second trailhead; install a boat launch and portage route; create more habitat viewing points
Traffic/Access: Possibility of reconfiguring the Woodroofe Avenue intersection; adding a crossing point for the parkway between Ambleside and Britannia.
Sector B · Woodroffe Avenue to Westboro Beach/Atlantis
Major Projects: Enhance facilities at Westboro beach; create a “signature people place” at Rochester Field. Some residents are concerned about blocking the current view and providing access, though the plan suggests there will be “unimpeded visual and physical access to the park.”
Traffic/Access: Create an underpass at Cleary Avenue; add pathway links to the Dominion LRT station
Sector C · Champlain to Remic Rapids (includes Bate Island)
Major Project: Explore the feasibility of building a cantilevered path for pedestrians and cyclists under the Champlain Bridge
Public Spaces: Create programmable event space and all-season trails at Remic Rapids and continue to support the rock sculptures, possibly expand art programs; rehabilitate Champlain woods and redesign Champlain Lookout to include programmable event space; reforest and create trails on Selby plains; boat launch and other improvements on Bate Island
Traffic/Access: Proposed crossing at Churchill Avenue, parking improvements at Remic Rapids
Sector D · Parkdale to Nepean Bay
Major Project: Long-term view to reconfigure or remove the Parkdale Avenue onramp and convert the shoreline lands to public park space, which would include a pavilion with lookout, restaurant, café/commercial facilities, restrooms, segregated pathways, over-the-water viewing platform, etc.
Public Spaces: Shoreline edge with viewing points at Lebreton Flats; new portage to bypass Chaudière Falls; Work with City of Ottawa to possibly enhance access to the Lemieux Island Water Purification Plant.
Traffic/Access: Support efforts to improve interprovincial connectivity for cycling and walking on the Prince of Wales Bridge; improve crossing at Slidell Street (near Laroche park); create pathway linkages from Bayview Station to the river pathway; convert Transitway underpass to a pedestrian/cyclist access point between Lebreton redevelopment and the shoreline.
Why is this important?
Ottawa is going through an exciting period of growth and investment in our built environment. The decisions that we are making today about planning will shape the city and inform the work of the NCC for decades to come.
This consultation is your best chance to provide input into the overarching plan for this area. It’s important to note that there will be more detailed plans developed for each area in the park, but they will be developed in accordance with the vision outlined in the plan.