Our urban parks can be local steppingstones to national goals


August sunrise in the morning sky over the Glebe and its Memorial Park. To the north, the Bronson/Chamberlain construction continues. The GCA has advocated that space created by the re-routed Chamberlain be used to expand the park’s northern boundary, and to create a new multi-use path.   Photo: Angus McCabe

By Angus McCabe

Volunteering with a community group like the Glebe Community Association (GCA) makes one idea very clear: what needs to happen nationally and globally can and must begin locally.

Whether it be working for local access to healthcare, affordable housing, active transportation, green retrofitting of homes or tree planting, community associations can help residents achieve meaningful goals for our country one neighbourhood at a time.

Active GCA files related to our neighbourhood’s beautiful parks provide some examples.

The GCA is excited about any opportunities to increase urban park space and improve seamless active transportation routes to the downtown. The Glebe is far below the city’s parkland standard of two hectares per 1,000 population, and global warming (and burning) demands action on clean transportation alternatives. The Bronson/Chamberlain construction project presents an opportunity to do both.

Glebe Memorial Park and pathways

Motions passed by the GCA since 2020 have recommended that as part of this project, Glebe Memorial Park be expanded to the north to include the current Chamberlain Avenue. This could happen by removing the existing sidewalk north of the park and extending the park boundary accordingly.

Simultaneously, a multi-use pathway could be created south of the rerouted Chamberlain from the Bronson/Imperial intersection, to merge into the multi-use pathway south of Chamberlain at Percy Street. This would provide a link to any northbound active transportation along Bronson Avenue by connecting it to the Percy bike route.

To save money, we have suggested that the city make these changes now by coordinating with the province while the current construction is ongoing. Councillor Shawn Menard is receptive to these ideas and hopes to convene a meeting with city staff to explore these recommendations further.

Fire Station Park

The new Fire Station Park represents another opportunity.

After a decade of advocacy by the GCA, and again with thanks to Councillor Menard and his predecessors, the city created this park with a senior-citizen focus. Stay tuned for adult exercise equipment in this and other parks to promote physical and mental well-being.

Since 2020, the Parks Committee has pressed the city to go further. Greenspaces in Canada’s cities can be small but meaningful steppingstones towards meeting other national goals: reconciliation, remediating climate change and habitat stewardship.

To be frank, we’ve encountered some stumbling blocks on this one. Fire Station Park, for example, features city design elements inconsistent with our recommendations. We wanted a name more consistent with the City’s Reconciliation Action Plan and a more “organic” looking pergola, to name a few issues.

Greenspace vision

Nevertheless, we invite the community to join us in our pursuit of a vision for this and other urban greenspaces. Park creation and care should be a collaboration with our community’s Algonquin Anishinaabe host nation, the National Healing Forests initiative and the Ottawa Horticultural Society’s Community Planting program. We must aim for ecologically rich and sustainable parks and rain gardens featuring local and sacred tree and pollinator plant species that attract butterflies, birds and other wildlife. Materials and methodologies should be sourced using a Carbon Neutral 2050 lens.

These are just a few of the parks-related issues in which the GCA continues to engage the city – all local concerns but with national implications. Additional motions passed last year also advocated that:

Lansdowne 2.0 not go forward until parkland deficit issues are addressed.

All-season access to our parks should be provided by ensuring year-round maintenance and snow clearing of staircases connected to pedestrian routes.

Neighbourhood and park quality of life be preserved through the regulation of vehicular parking by film production crews.

When residents raise concerns about the long-term health of ecologically unique urban greenspaces like Brown’s Inlet, measured, data-driven solutions be explored through a city-led dialogue with experts.

Urban parks provide joy, peace, health and wonder for all residents. Stewardship of such precious amenities, like the work to achieve all of Canada’s meaningful goals, begins at home. With gratitude for all that is luckily in our midst, we can continue this work together. Visit our website at glebeca.ca/parks-committee/ and contact us at parks@glebeca.ca.

Angus McCabe is the chair of the Glebe Community Association Parks Committee

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