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!