City approves funding for new OOE community centre

By John Dance

The much dreamed about new community centre now has approved funding.

The City of Ottawa’s new budget has earmarked $1 million in 2020 to design a new Old Ottawa East (OOE) community centre to replace the Old Town Hall. And for 2021, the budget forecasts $9.5 million for construction of the facility that would be in the middle of Greystone Village in the Deschâtelets Residence, as described in the accompanying story on the new school.

Arrows at the top left and top centre of the design rendering of the Deschâtelets Building and the Grand Allee point to the planned new gymnasium/multi-purpose building and the historic residence which will host a new Frenchlanguage
school and the long-awaited new community centre for Old Ottawa East. Image by CECCE

Capital Ward Councillor Shawn Menard describes the emerging project as a potential “major win” for the community.

“Working collaboratively with the community, the school board, Regional and the City to use a historic site to serve a core community need is an example of creative planning and new urbanism,” he said.

The news was greeted with delight by Don Stephenson, past chair of the OOE Community Activities Group (CAG), who has worked tirelessly over the last four years to seek City support for new facilities.

“Old Ottawa East has always been a wonderful place to live but with a modern and much larger community centre, it will be even better,” said Stephenson.

Over the last few years, CAG has provided suggestions of what elements would be most valuable in a new community centre. A regulation-sized gymnasium/multi-purpose room is a key part of the proposal.

The space would allow for a large variety of activities including basketball and for holding large and small community meetings.

The timelines for the project and details of ownership and operation have yet to be determined. City staff indicate that “there are a lot of moving parts.”

The City still must negotiate with the French Catholic School Board to acquire a portion of the Deschâtelets Residence for a community centre and with Regional Group to acquire adjacent land for the gymnasium.

There are also rezoning, site plan and heritage applications for the project to be filed (by the School Board), processed and approved. Staff expect that this will take place during the winter and spring of 2020.

In terms of the design work, CAG will lead that process on the community side, assisted by the Sandy Hill Community Health Centre (CAG’s principal partner in programming community activities and services) and the OOE Community Association.

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