The Heart of Ottawa: Hintonburg and Mechanicsville

Up and coming neighbourhood

Posted in Uncategorized by nicbaird on September 30, 2010

Enroute did a short profile of Hintonburg characterizing it as an artsy family area. Read the story

“If Hintonburg were a person, it would be someone who’s a lot of fun and a great laugh but goes to bed early.”
– Don Monet, curator of Cube Gallery.

Check out my audio slideshow on the gentrification of Hintonburg.


The Price of Hintonburg Art

Posted in Uncategorized by nicbaird on March 31, 2010

An examination of Hintonburg gentrification linked to the growing neighbourhood arts community. See the pictures and accompanying sound here.

Parkdale Park Plans

Posted in Uncategorized by nicbaird on March 27, 2010

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

One more Hintonburg Hairstylist

Posted in Uncategorized by nicbaird on March 3, 2010

Dogz Spa and Boutique on Wellington, in Hintonburg

Hopefully this will supplement my last post on hairdressers, by including these more obscure hairstylists.

When I was in Hintonburg last weekend, I passed by a window with some interesting bulleted points painted on the glass: massage therapy, aromatherapy, personalized bandannas, and pawdicures. Pawdicures?

“Massage therapy is good for dogs with arthritis,” said Tracy, co-owner of Dogz Spa and Boutique, in Hintonburg. Tracy explained how the dog spa offers services far beyond a typical hair studio. The doggy fashion boutique in the front room made that clear to me immediately. “No one else gives [dog] facials,” said Tracy.

Tracy said she was successful in the high-tech industry. She retired at a young age and opened the store to relax. I asked her if she was enjoying the business. “I’m exhausted,” she said. “I plan to retire again soon.”

The downside is that working with animals gets tiring, Tracy said. Though,she told me she has been able to retain her love for them.

Tracy took this picture of the dog she was working on.

Hintonburg’s Barberian Invasion

Posted in Uncategorized by nicbaird on March 3, 2010

Left to Right: Barber Shop, Carole's Barbershop and Hairstyling, Bobbi Pin Hair Studio, Character, and Salon M.

One interesting thing I’ve noticed from walking around Hintonburg is that there is an extraordinary amount of places that will cut  your hair. “There’s heaps of them,” said Bob Hayes, who runs a barber shop on Wellington Street, in Hintonburg.

As an Ottawa resident, I know the city is flooded with barbers/hairdressers. But, Hintonburg has got it bad.

Carole’s Barbershop and Hairstyling, Character, Salon M, Dan Rocco Barber Shop, Vincent Barber Shop, Barber Shop, and Bobbi Pin Hair Studio are all easily within a kilometer of each other in the centre of Hintonburg.

Hayes explained the difference between hairdressers, stylists, and barbers, is that the latter serves exclusively male patrons. Barbershops in Hintonburg

Bob Hayes, from the Barber Shop on Wellington Street

have much older storefronts compared to the flashy billboards of the hair studios. It seems barbers are drastically outnumbered, in Hintonburg at least.

In the seventies, kids started growing their hair long and a lot of shops shut down, said Hayes. He said he remembers when the union shut down in 1974. “Barbers don’t exist anymore.”

Hayes said he moved here from Sparks Street downtown. “It was always the same there. It’s fun here!”

Hayes and I talk about my schooling until a customer comes in a few minutes later.

DANGER: Seniors losing their marbles?!?!

Posted in Uncategorized by nicbaird on March 2, 2010

Elderly Person XingI found this crossing sign on Wellington Street, in front of the Hintonburg Community Centre.

Hintonburg Community Centre (1064 Wellington Street)

The centre runs fitness programs for the elderly. Large exercise balls are used in many of the programs, though no “bounce moves”, says Karen, who works at the centre. I was puzzled about the number of Hintonburg seniors who are struck chasing the balls across the street. Karen says she doesn’t think that’s ever happened.

Hintonburg’s dense population of seniors are the oldest in the region, says Lee McCarthy, executive director of the Ottawa West Community Support. The group is a non-profit organization helping seniors and disabled persons who need assistance to continue living at home.

Hintonburg seniors range from those living in non-profit institutions or subsidized housing to those in richer retirement homes,

The Ottawa West Community Support (1137 Wellington Street)

says McCarthy. For Hintonburg’s independent seniors the biggest issue is mobility. The OWSC offers transportation, and a range of programs for the elderly in the area. In The Salvation Army’s Grace Manor, across the street from the OWSC, many of the seniors need wheelchair help, and there are cases of dementia which need constant attention, says McCarthy. “I don’t think a senior will chase a ball across the street.”

Little Boxes (Photo Story)

Posted in Uncategorized by nicbaird on February 10, 2010

Hintonburg residents don’t need much space. Housing is desperately needed for the well-off and those just making do. Both are finding they didn’t need as much as they thought. Read the whole story and see the pictures as a slideshow here. Or see the photo set with accompanying text here.

James Dalwrimple builds the 12' wide house.