Our Canadian Cities 3077 Views by Alex Butler

Ottawa: What is Centretown's Favourite Park?

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Dundonald Park is a Centretown favourite, a historically significant and charmingly urban bit of  green space in a neighbourhood that is lacking in other public areas. With a children’s park, chess tables and space to play sports or walk dogs, the park has a lot to offer, although there is certainly room for improvement.

Luckily, Dundonald was recently selected as one of eight parks across the province to take part in a planning and design program by 8-80 Cities, an organization that aims to make cities people-friendly for anyone ages 8 to 80. The project is being run in partnership with the Centretown Community Health Centre. Its goal is to first create a plan to make the park a safe and accessible public space and then to connect to community leaders who can enact changes.

Representatives from CCHC and 8-80 Cities spoke at a meeting on Wednesday about the importance of public spaces and the Dundonald Park project. Executive Director of 8-80 Cities, Gil Penalosa, stressed the importance of creating good urban spaces for the benefit of the people who live there.

Penalosa said one of the most important aspects of urban spaces is making them safe for pedestrians because, regardless of transportation method, all trips begin and end in walking. He commended Ottawa for it’s segregated bike lanes, but stressed the importance of connecting the cycling network. “You’ve got to connect places of origin to places of destination,” he said.

8-80 Cities aims to guide the revitalization of Dundonald Park based on the desires of the community. Penalosa said the changes have to be driven by what people want and not by replicating what has been done in other cities. “The idea is not to copy and paste, but to adapt,” he said. Penalosa stressed the importance of community driven change, but also recognized the necessity of working with local politicians. As a vocal supporter of green space, Somerset Ward Councillor Diane Holmes, attended the meeting and was thanked by Penalosa for her interest in the project.

Community members raised concerns about safety in Dundonald Park, citing the proximity to the beer store, poor lighting and homelessness as the main issues. Penalosa stressed the importance of increasing the park’s use in order to increase its safety. “Public space that is well-used is safe,” he said. “Public space that is empty is dangerous.”

This project is in the preliminary stages, with 8-80 Cities returning in June for a second round of community engagement. Community members can register with the organization to take part in focus groups regarding the project. In the meantime, anyone who has suggestions for improving Dundonald Park for everyone can post on the project’s Facebook group.

Internet site reference: http://apt613.ca/urban-parks-are-for-people-the-dundonald-park-project


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