By Sue Stefko
(Appeared in the Glebe Report, March 2022)
The proposed zoning changes for 299 Carling were approved earlier this year, with the site’s zoning by-law released on January 26th. As expected, the zoning will allow buildings ranging in height from eight to twenty 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. With the removal of so much of the neighbourhood’s tree canopy through infill development, and the influx of population that development is bringing to the area, including approximately 550 units at this site alone, a public park in this location is most welcome.
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 to date, dating back to 2017, there will be another opportunity for the public to provide further feedback into the proposed park plan soon. Information about how residents can provide feedback will be posted on the project’s website (www.clc-sic.ca/real-estate/299-carling-avenue) in the coming weeks. Results from the public engagement will assist in the creation of a park plan.
Previous public engagements asked for feedback on the most desired amenities for the park. Public art, seating, playground structures and fitness equipment were among those most frequently listed. Although Dalhousie South Park had its children’s play structures updated in 2018, there is still a desire to include playground equipment as an amenity. However, given the updated Dalhousie South Park playground is geared to younger children, some have called for amenities to better support older children and adolescents, such as a multi-purpose court to accommodate a variety of sports like basketball, ball hockey, volleyball and badminton.
What people are interested in for that space may evolve as a result of COVID. Since the start of the pandemic, the public’s 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 St location, as that park 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, who 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 development of so much of our available land, as well as the astronomical price of land, it is very likely that 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 community space.