By Sue Stefko
With the removal of so much of the Glebe Annex’s tree canopy for infill development and the influx of population that follows development, including approximately 550 units at the 299 Carling site alone, a public park in this location is most welcome.
The proposed zoning changes for 299 Carling were approved earlier this year, with the site’s zoning bylaw released on January 26. As expected, the zoning will allow buildings ranging from 8 to 20 storeys and will include space for a new public park, as well as privately owned but publicly accessible space at the rock outcrop area which will be incorporated into future development.
The zoning approval sets the stage for the next step in the process – the creation of the public park.
The park, expected to be just under half an acre in size, will be located at the north end of the site, next to Hasenack Place and west of the Dow’s Lake Towers apartment building at 360 Bell Street South. Although Canada Lands has solicited feedback throughout the process since 2017, there will soon be another opportunity for the public to have a say on the creation of a park plan. Information about that process will be posted on the project’s website (www.clc-sic.ca/real-estate/299-carling-avenue) in the coming weeks.
Previous public engagements asked for feedback on the most desired amenities for the park. Public art, seating, playground structures and fitness equipment were most frequently listed. Although the children’s play structures at Dalhousie South Park were updated in 2018, many still want playground equipment in the new park as well. However, given that the updated Dalhousie South playground is geared more to younger children, some think the new park should better support older children and adolescents, with amenities such as a multi-purpose court to accommodate a variety of sports like basketball, ball hockey, volleyball and badminton.
What people want for the new space may evolve as a result of COVID. During the pandemic, public use of parks and public greenspace has increased due to restrictions on indoor amenities but also due to the psychological, physical and social benefits of these spaces. This may well change park design in the future. Some see a greater move to outdoor fitness equipment or perhaps individualized uses instead of team sports. Others expect a greater movement towards contemplative-style gardens that provide a greater connection to nature.
The creation of the Norman/Rochester Street park at the Booth Street Complex is also something that many may take into account when considering what amenities we need at the Lebreton Street location, as it is just a block or two away. Canada Lands completed the public engagement process for that park in 2020, which resulted in a proposal for a play structure, splash pad, covered/sheltered area, a basketball key (a partial court) and public gathering space for teens and adults. Given our proximity to this park, this may reduce the need for a splash pad or a multi-purpose court.
The Norman/Rochester park will undergo a final round of community consultations, this time led by the city which will ultimately manage the park, before Canada Lands starts construction. The process will be similar for the 299 Carling park. Following public consultations, the city will lead its own confirmatory consultations and finalize the details before construction can start. If all goes well, construction of our new park could start in spring 2023.
Given the size and density of the Glebe Annex, the astronomical price of land and the fact so much of it has already been developed, it is very likely this will be the last park built in our area for many years. We encourage all residents to take maximum advantage of this opportunity, consider what our community needs most and how to best maximize this very valuable and much-needed space.
Sue Stefko is president of the Glebe Annex Community Association.