An Urban Park to Serve the Whole City
By Bob Brocklebank
So far, the evident construction activity at Lansdowne has centred on the parking garage, commercial buildings and the new south-side stands of the stadium. We should remember that a positive aspect of Lansdowne redevelopment will be the transformation of acres of lifeless asphalt into parkland.
In my latest visit to the site, I saw the first provisions being made for landscaping. To support walkways south of the Aberdeen Pavilion, special mixes of soil and rock, which can accommodate tree roots, have been installed. A new low wall suitable for sitting is being formed in the same area, as part of what has been called the “Great Porch.” The concept plans for the parkland – Aberdeen Square, Water Plaza, the hill, skating rink, orchard, reflecting pond, great lawn – have been known for some time.
Less clear is the City’s intention for using the park. To explore current thinking, I approached the Parks, Recreation and Cultural Services Department and found them enthusiastic about the possibilities. They emphasized that the new park will have 14 outdoor spaces in which program activities could be undertaken.
The watchword in planning seems to be to “celebrate community,” by offering the possibility not only of large events such as outdoor concerts, but also more intimate gatherings such as community meetings, to take place in newly created spaces in the relocated Horticulture Building. Because Lansdowne is to be a facility to serve the whole city, it is not only folk from the Glebe or our neighbours in Old Ottawa South involved. Lansdowne will be serving as a park for the people from Kinburn or Sarsfield as well, creating opportunities to showcase and develop the diversity of Ottawa
It is hoped that volunteers from the community will play a prime role in park activity. Not only is it expected that musicians and artists will display their talents in events at the park, but there will also be possibilities for volunteer orchardists to care for the heritage orchard to be established in the northern part of the park. As well, there will be a civic garden that could present opportunities for those with a “green thumb.” Of course, the Farmers’ Market is to return to Lansdowne and facilities to support the market have been part of the design for the area north of Aberdeen Pavilion. As mentioned in my article of last month, the berms around the stadium will form a tobogganing hill in winter. In summer, there will be a children’s park for play. It is hoped that the skating rink at Lansdowne will support skating on the canal and will be integrated into Winterlude celebrations. Indeed there is hope that animation of the Lansdowne facilities will have an impact on its surroundings, for example, by stimulating community use and appreciation of the canal.
The annual calendar of programming for the park is to be devised in such a way as to fit with activity elsewhere on the Lansdowne site. For the FIFA soccer championships in 2015, for example, it is suggested that there be related activities planned for the park. To ease strain on transportation facilities, the usual practice will be that big events in the park will be scheduled for times when the stadium is not in full use.
Members of City staff have looked into similar parks in North America and Europe. Their objective has been to maximize the benefit from the rehabilitation of Lansdowne and to make it a centre of continuous activity throughout the year. They note that Ottawa is running out of outdoor venues for events and they are confident that the redeveloped Lansdowne facilities will be well used.
With respect to the legal niceties applicable to Lansdowne, the stadium and arena have been leased to the Ottawa Sports & Entertainment Group (OSEG), which also has responsibility for the commercial buildings. By contrast, the Aberdeen Pavilion, the Horticulture Building and the open park area remain under the direct control of the City. It is not too early for community groups to begin to plan how they can best take advantage of the redeveloped Lansdowne. The City of Ottawa Parks, Recreation & Cultural Services Department would welcome inquiries about using the park. To do so, please contact Delores MacAdam at delores. email@example.com or by telephone at 613-580-2424, Ext. 41279.
Bob Brocklebank is chair of the Lansdowne Committee of the Glebe Community Association.
Lansdowne Park September 5, 2013
The photograph above has been selected as the first of a series of aerial photos taken from the southwestern corner of the intersection at Holmwood Avenue and Bank Street. Ten photo shoots by photographer Soo Hum will take place over the next ten weeks, all taken from the same vantage point on the top floor of the Lord Lansdowne Retirement Residence. In due time, they can viewed on the photo gallery on our website.
As the paper of record, the Glebe Report aims to document changes as they take place at Lansdowne Park. For those who are interested in tracking Lansdowne developments, do look at the Glebe Report archives online at www.glebereport.ca to view the photographs on the front pages of the Glebe Report in the months of March 2013 and August 2012. Both offer the contrast of a different composition and an earlier stage in the development of Lansdowne Park. The archives also contain many other articles dealing with the community challenges posed by Lansdowne Park over the years. For a description of the current stage of construction taking place at Lansdowne, go to Bob Brocklebank’s article, “Lansdowne Park From the Ground Up”. You may also recognize some of the structures he is describing in the photos taken at ground level from the four cardinal points as seen in “Views of the Aberdeen Pavilion”.
Lansdowne Park from the ground up
By Bob Brocklebank
Looking at the action at Lansdowne Park from outside the fence, it’s not at all clear what is happening. As GCA Lansdowne Chair, I have been asked to accompany our councillor and the project manager on periodic visits to the site. With this article, I hope to help you make sense of what you see.
At first glance, what you see are great mounds of earth, a product of the extensive excavation required for new servicing for the site, building foundations and a giant underground parking garage.
Designed to accommodate some 1,300 vehicles, the single-level garage is an L-shaped structure along the north and west sides of the property beside Holmwood Avenue and Bank Street. Most of the new construction on the site is on top of this garage; as parts of the garage are completed, work proceeds on the buildings above. Soon it will be possible to start using the garage for parking workers’ vehicles, thereby freeing up the land slated for future parkland.
As work on the garage proceeds south along Bank, the creation of a temporary entrance into the site near the Wilton corner is permitting garage construction at the main entrance into Lansdowne; that entrance will be reopened shortly.
Structural steel framing has been erected for several of the commercial buildings. They are two or three storeys in height and do not require special foundation work. The bulkiest is designed to be a multi-screen cinema. Work on the cinema building continues without interruption, but it remains unclear who will operate the cinema, as Empire (an arm of the Sobey’s group) is withdrawing from that business.
Walking among the steel skeletons of the commercial buildings, I was struck by their size. When completed, they will double the commercial floor space in our neighbourhood. The mediation process on Lansdowne zoning, involving the Glebe and Ottawa South community associations (GCA and OSCA) and Holmwood residents, saw the removal of apartments originally planned above those commercial buildings. If permitted, the buildings would have loomed even more greatly over Holmwood Avenue. Work has not progressed much on the one commercial building where tenants have long been identified – the building to house Whole Foods and the LCBO.
In addition to the steel structures, there will be three taller concrete framed buildings – the condo tower at Bank and Holmwood (marketed as “Vibe”), the office building along Bank and the condo tower at the foot of the Bank Street bridge (marketed as “Rideau”). To support these taller – and much heavier – buildings, thick pads of reinforced concrete have been installed below the floor level of the parking garage at these locations. The three installations required extensive continuous work in concrete pouring. The “Vibe” condo at Bank and Holmwood will eventually be similar in height to the Lord Lansdowne tower across the street. At the corner, the building is set back to provide a meeting place – another of the changes achieved through mediation on zoning of the site.
The stadium structure remains the dominant image of Lansdowne, one that will disappear behind the “Rideau” tower and office building. Much work on the north-side stands and arena is hidden from view. The old seats are long gone and the roof is in the process of being replaced. Reinforcement of supports for the stands means they can be safely occupied to capacity. The arena roof will be waterproof – hockey games should not be cancelled because of leakage. On the north side, steel framing has been erected to create additional commercial space.
The concrete structure of the new south-side stands and the underground locker rooms and other team facilities are now clearly visible. To the south, mounded soil will create a berm curving around to the east of the stadium, providing a toboggan hill for children. A bridge is to connect the north and south stands.
The Aberdeen Pavilion resembles a dignified old lady out of place in the dirt and seeming chaos that surrounds her. Inside the pavilion are temporary offices for the contractors, the City and OSEG. To the east is the temporary on-site concrete plant that has served to limit the traffic of cement-mix trucks on Bank Street.
Just south of the Aberdeen Pavilion, first work on the urban park is underway in the form of installing drainage. A contract has now been signed for the restoration of the long-neglected Horticulture Building. The berms, the parkland with the concrete plant removed, the Aberdeen Pavilion and the restored Horticulture Building will make up the real “park” of Lansdowne Park. City officials are said to be hard at work on programming for this park. Ensuring that there would be a real park was the prime objective of the GCA in the mediation on zoning, held under the watchful eyes of the Ontario Municipal Board. In a future article in the Glebe Report, I will examine how the City proposes to use the new park.
Bob Brocklebank is chair of the Lansdowne Committee of the Glebe Community Association.