The Heart of Ottawa: Hintonburg and Mechanicsville

Parkdale park’s new look: Hintonburg’s Neighbourhood Planning Initiative

Posted in Uncategorized by nicbaird on March 17, 2010

Parkdale park is poised for change. The construction from the Parkdale market has been going on since October.

Parkdale park

Now it seems it has spilled into the adjoining park. Sections of the area are fenced off. Another sign of the coming renovations, besides the one announcing “Upgrades”. The construction is likely to begin this spring.

The work on the park starts as soon as the ground can handle the weight of the equipment,” said Nancy Jackson, who received a city managers’ award of excellence this year.

Jackson won the award for her work on the Neighbourhood Planning Initiative (NPI). The document describes the collaboration as a unique pilot project aimed at “a new approach to working with a community.” The city of Ottawa staged it in Hintonburg and Vars to engage the residents, businesses, and city planners to create a vision for the neighbourhood and an action plan to make improvements.

Because of the success in Hintonburg, city council approved the NPI pilot for other Ottawa neighbourhoods, Feb. 24. A streamlined NPI was recommended to handle the high demand the project has from neighbourhoods. “Lots of councillors want the next one to be in their ward, but we’ll look for the ones that need it,” Jackson said.

In Parkdale park the snow is melting, it’s mostly muddy grass. Lots of parents are taking their children there to use the play structure. The park gets a lot of traffic. The wading pool is still full of leaves. It will look very different before it gets any use.

“I’d like to see more things for the kids,” Hintonburg resident Christina  Sawyer said. She was at the park with her three daughters. Play structures aren’t the same these days, she said.

They gave us a list of specific elements they wanted,” said Joanne Moran, the city landscape architect who worked with community members to design the new Parkdale park. People wanted it to be a centre for community events, Moran said. There will be space for performances and murals, and the wading pool will still be there but deeper. “Hintonburg is a very creative community.”

The upcoming renovations in the park are a strong example of the NPI at work, Jackson said. “The community feels it’s the hub of Hintonburg.”

The park will mix more with the market, said Philip Powell, the city market manager. The new market’s ongoing construction will end 2011. It was designed by discussing the market’s needs with the community as part of the NPI, Powell said.

The Parkdale park and market are Ottawa landmarks, said Moran.

Powell said intensive meetings between city staff and the community planned all the neighbourhood improvements. “Someone made the line that there really aren’t gathering places. The community didn’t gather as much as they once did, at churches, or other places. But, the market serves that function. People come to that area weekly to connect. It’s that important.”

Hintonburg got lucky that the federal stimulus freed up some spending for the park, Moran said.

The biggest challenge will be finding funding for the Hintonburg NPI’s next project, Jackson said. Jackson is no longer working on the project, but said “Hintonburg is a community that won’t not stop looking for funds. There will need to be some patience.”


Hintonburg Park-goers

Christina Sawyer said it’s a great place to take her kids. She thinks there could be more things at the park to entertain them.

Jim Clark said he likes the freshness of the market. He came to the park to try the swings with his daughter.

“It’s easy to tire out my siblings here”, said Ana Sharma, 12. She said she uses the space to unicycle.

Christina Sawyer and daughters: Samantha, Jasmine, and McKenzie

Jim Clark and his daughter.

Ana Sharma, and Kloe Kinsmen

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