Rick Burrowes Recognized As Driving Force Behind Rebirth Of Springhurst Park

By John Dance

Rick Borrowes, long-time OOE resident and the driving force behind a revitalized Springhurst Park, has been honoured by the Sandy Hill Community Health Centre with its Excellence in Health Promotion Award.

“Rick lives adjacent to the park and has taken the initiative over a number of years to observe how the park was being used,” says SHCHC’s Chris Osler. “He has created opportunities to further enhance the healthy active living components of the park. As a proponent of outdoor active living himself, Rick recognizes the importance of public park spaces, not only for the physical exercise benefits but for the social and cross-cultural benefits as well.”

Rick Burrowes was presented with Sandy Hill Community Health Centre’s (SHCHC) Award for Excellence in Health Promotion by Aynsley Morris, SHCHC’s Board Chair, for his work and dedication to revitalizing Springhurst Park for young and old in the community. Photo By Chris Osler

His “Springhurst Park Action” initiative – SPA for short – focuses on improving the amenities and activities at the park that is the principal recreation area for the thousands who live in the Lees apartment towers and the Archville neighbourhood to the north of Greystone Village.

Springhurst Park has steadily improved over the years with such additions as the very popular basketball court and the play area that SHCHC, the Community Activities Group of Old Ottawa East and the community association supported. But now Burrowes is making the park more inviting for all.

“Many of the residents of the Lees Avenue towers are newcomers to Canada with diverse recreational interests,” says Osler. “With this in mind, Rick purchased a picnic table, bolted a ping-pong tabletop to it, provided a net, paddles and balls, and has seen residents flock to use it.”

“Similarly, Rick purchased PVC pipe and fabricated two medium-sized soccer goalpost frames that can be pulled out to the field at 160 Lees for public use by children and their friends and parents. Rick has provided and set up a volleyball net, badminton nets with racquets and birdies, hula hoops, frisbees and balls, all stored in his yard when not in use,” says Osler.

“It’s great to see dozens of people enjoying the games that SPA puts out, and people thank me daily for this good deed,” says Burrowes. “It’s gratifying to see the popularity of the table tennis and volleyball grow steadily so that most evenings there is a crowd around the table and a fun game of volleyball from 6:30 until dark. The players show appreciation for good plays, laugh when funny fails happen and, even though the skill level is rising quickly, people focus on fun and never argue.”

Last fall, Burrowes launched a campaign called “Vision Springhurst 2019,” an effort to encourage other residents to become involved in advocating and leading initiatives to further improve Springhurst Park. So while improving what’s now in the park, including his persistence in ensuring the basketball court was properly resurfaced, Burrowes proposes such improvements as a dock like the one at Brantwood, canoe/kayak storage racks, a beach volleyball court, and a “nice permanent concrete table tennis table where my ageing one is now.

“With the loss of the Oblats playing fields to development and the effective privatization of the Immaculata playing field, the importance to our community of investing in Springhurst Park and designating the 160 Lees playing fields as parkland is now essential,” says Burrowes. He continues to pursue the long-term vision of Springhurst and contemplates the City’s plans for building the four-lane Alta Vista Transportation Corridor in the green space between Springhurst Park and the Lees Avenue towers.

“The absurdity of spending billions on LRT to increase mass transit use and at the same time pushing another freeway into the core that will encourage people to shun the LRT to drive downtown really is mind-boggling,” he notes.

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Filed in: Environment, Front Page, News

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