By Karen Squires and Katherine Hall
Over the years the New Edinburgh Community Alliance (NECA) has worked with a group of volunteers to ensure the park area is preserved, kept clean and well-maintained, in collaboration with City team members.
While the park cleanup did not take place last year, the NECA parks group met with City staff members to discuss maintenance issues to do with the tennis courts, seasonal garbage bins, bench repairs, fencing and signage. As well, City staff have just confirmed that both the annual icebreaking program on the Rideau River and the Combined Sewage Storage Tunnel (CSST) tunnel maintenance will be accessed by the broadened, newly resurfaced roadway entrance near the New Edinburgh Fieldhouse. Therefore, you will see the equipment required for the icebreaking coming through this area from late February to early March. We hope to provide an update on scheduling for the ongoing CSST tunnel maintenance, which will also access the park from the same location near the fieldhouse.
During 2021, LDD moths became a major issue, destroying tree leaves all around Ottawa. City staff have confirmed there is a budget in 2022 which includes a new, temporary, full- time employee joining the Forestry department for the express purpose of developing and implementing community support programming around LDD. This role will also support the development and implementation of an Urban Forest Outreach and Engagement Strategy which is a key recommendation of the Urban Forest Management Plan. One element of this program is a burlap distribution kit, more details of which we hope to provide in a future edition. We all want to ensure we are able to protect our trees against ongoing LDD invasion.
Prior to COVID-19’s ongoing public safety restrictions, residents (with Friends of the Park) were invited to come out and do a collective spring park cleanup each May. We are monitoring the situation now to determine how best to move forward in 2022 for potential spring and fall dates.
In Spring 2021, the New Edinburgh News asked for input from residents as to what they enjoyed about the park and what they’d like to see more of. Here’s a summary of what we learned. People:
- love to walk in nature – natural setting is a key theme!
- would like to see more garbage cans and recycling bins.
- want better signage to keep cyclists off the shoreline.
- are interested in the restoration of natural beauty and the addition of more benches.
- would like more cleanup initiatives.
- support more wildflowers, green space, and tree-planting to improve biodiversity.
- would like to see better care taken of seeded grass areas.
- want more native plant species planted to attract birds.
- support the possible expansion of the waterfront area to Porter Island, Bordeleau Park and Rideau Falls.
In November 2021, we were pleased to hear that the City will be switching to a cleaner grass mowing alternative, to cut down on fumes. We liaised with City staff, who have agreed to reduce the amount of mowing in the “regeneration area” of the park. A consistent theme is to keep the park natural and clean, and have places where people can stroll, sit, and enjoy the scenery including birds, wildflowers, trees, and the waterfront.
Members from the Crichton Community Council (CCC) manage the Fieldhouse, the skating rink, and children’s playground area in addition to such annual events as the plant sale, in and around the fieldhouse area. NECA continues to liaise with the CCC and to provide updates, through NEN’s event listings on what’s happening.
To conclude, while New Edinburgh and Stanley Park and nearby areas serve a diverse group of people, there are more people using the park year-round since COVID lockdowns and restrictions. We will increase our coordinated efforts with City staff to ensure we all work together for a clean, natural, and safe space to enjoy all year. As of January 2022, the City is aware of our requests and have approved the funds to do some repairs to the tennis courts and fencing near the fieldhouse. They have also noted our request for better signage for cyclists and the replacement of one bench near the tennis courts.
Karen Squires and Katherine Hall are members of the Friends of the Park committee at NECA. To learn more about Friends of the Park, please email firstname.lastname@example.org
Compiled by Christina Leadlay (this article originally appeared in the June 2021 edition of the New Edinburgh News)
New Edinburgh Park, Stanley Park…. Whatever you call it, the greenspace along the Rideau River from Sussex Drive to Beechwood Avenue is one of the top reasons we choose to live in this neighbourhood.
The New Edinburgh News presents a special feature on “the park” complete with maps, rules, history and stories about what makes this greenspace unique and worth protecting.
But first, let’s hear from local park users!
Every day throughout the year, a variety of people use New Edinburgh’s park for many different reasons. Some access the park multiple times a day; others use the park in many capacities – as pedestrians, cyclists, dog walkers or with their children. The New Edinburgh News reached out to residents via email and asked them:
1) What is your favourite thing about the park?
2) What would you like to improve about the park?
The following responses have been edited for length and content.
Karen McDonald, Crichton Street. Retired person, pedestrian, dog walker
I love walking my dog from our house, along the river path, past the play area and tennis courts, through the little woods, past the canine swimming hole, though the big off-leash area, and if it’s a nice day, around Rideau Hall and back home again. I love seeing all the people of different ages and family configurations enjoying the park.
Room for improvement: Somehow getting the litterers (including fellow dog walkers) to pick up after themselves. More garbage cans, perhaps? Also, keeping cyclists off the shoreline pedestrian path, especially now that there is a continuous paved bike path through the park. Would more signs help, or more barriers, such as big rocks, at strategic points to make it more difficult for [cyclists] to access the dirt path?
Kathy Kealey, Dufferin Road. Dog walker
The best thing about the park is its use by all residents, young and old, human and animal.
I’d like to see our park enhanced by the addition of a small, multi-use pavilion for yoga, small concerts, outdoor painting classes, and shelter from inclement weather. A few drinking fountains, cobblestone paths to cut down on muddy walkways, covered benches to shelter from the sun, and more garbage receptacles would make the park much more user friendly.
Frances Middleton, Stanley Avenue. Family with young child, dog walker
Our favourite thing about the park is its natural beauty; how it’s so green and has various types of vegetation. We also love the different views that the park has to offer, whether you’re taking it in from a bench or standing in the off-leash area and looking across Rideau River to Parliament.
As long as the flora and fauna wouldn’t be negatively impacted, it would be nice if the bank between the tennis courts and workout area and the Rideau River could be restored to something more natural. You can’t tell from the path itself, but from across the river the crumbling retaining wall is a bit of an eyesore. More benches along here could be nice!
Michele Carini Bruinsma, Stanley Avenue
What I love: that it’s an off-leash dog park with lots of green space.
Room for improvement: More rubbish bins, plus replacing the broken ones. How about recycling bins for glass, plastic, and trash and one specifically for dog poop, which are standard in European public parks and now even in Kitchener, Ont.
Saman and Dorothy, Crichton Street. Recreational users and nature lovers
What we love: The proximity to the river, the green landscape, the wildlife (particularly birds), the change of use and landscape over the different seasons.
To improve: More frequent garbage collection from the bins; complete the planting of grass near the water storage tank facility; maybe have more volunteer cleaning drives for the banks of the river.
The Shepherd Family, MacKay Street
I’d like to see many more wildflowers to attract the monarchs. The old monarch garden seems to have disappeared. I’d also like to see more “NO BIKES ON THIS STRICTLY WALKING PATH” signs. It is most irritating to have bikes roaring past on the walking path.
Karen Squires and Richard Aubry, River Lane
I love how the park brings our community together, right in the heart of our beautiful city. I think everyone benefits from this amazing green space and I’m so pleased that it’s now back in full use again [after years of infrastructure work]. We must continue to protect our green spaces to ensure they are natural, clean, and safe for everyone.
I think more effort in keeping the entire park area clean is very important. There is still a considerable amount of garbage left behind on Stanley in and around the park. There needs to be more accountability when groups use the park for events to ensure there is zero “garbage footprint” left behind. With more people using this limited space, there should be more support to ensure green space is protected and clean. We continue to lose trees for a variety of reasons (i.e., climate change) so trees and bushes need to be replanted to ensure we maintain our limited green space, moving forward, for all to enjoy.
Eileen Olexiuk, River Lane. Senior, retired person, pedestrian
I love the river, the trees, the birds, and other small animals that live there: the peacefulness of nature. I also love the activities, especially for young people: cycling, soccer, baseball, skating or just playing on the equipment.
What I would like to see improved is restricting cyclists to using the bike lanes, and not taking the walking paths along the river. We need better signage strategically placed and visits by bylaw officers until such time as respect for all users is recognized.
Jill Nowell, Dufferin Road
I think that finally the city has built us a wonderful new park for our neighbourhood. I love all the trees that have been planted and keep finding new paths to wander about while walking my dog.
However, it is taking a very long time for the seeded grass areas to grow and as a result we get very muddy areas when it rains, and this destroys the new grass trying to grow. The areas now need to be covered with sod.
Deepee Khosla, River Lane
My favourite thing(s): I love going for walks along the river. In the winter, the skating rink is a blast.
It would be nice to have a section of the park planted with native [species] to encourage more wildlife. Perhaps something similar to what’s been done at Remic Rapids.
Raewyn Khosla, River Lane. Nature Lover
I love walking through the park watching the trees go through the seasons.
I’d love to see an area of the park dedicated to native plants, a rewilding project with an urban meadow theme using native flowers, trees and grasses that will attract more diverse insects, birds, and wildlife. This is something that is happening internationally in cities as biodiversity is threatened and development and agriculture eat up natural habitats.
Justin Swan, River Lane. Family with young children, cyclist, pedestrian, sports & rec user[I love] the waterfront. It provides great views of the downtown, Parliament, and Minto Bridges – a unique perspective of our capital. [I would make improvements] to evolve Stanley Park into one that is internationally renowned and a top-three destination in the capital. This would include expansion of the park through amalgamating Porter Island, Bordeleau Park, the Rideau Falls, and Stanley Park via a new pedestrian pathway “loop.” The loop would connect new destinations within the park as well – a small outdoor theatre on Maple Island, a seated patio at the new junction framing the view of the Parliament, a canoe dock, and a new and expanded fieldhouse worthy of hosting a variety of events and programming. Let’s be bold!