Quest for Quidditch – Grassroots Opponents to the Alta Vista Traffic Corridor Emerge

JOHN DANCE

An unusual coalition of Community and Recreational Groups Now Seek to Block the Use of the Springhurst-Lees Park Greenspace for a New Four-Lane Roadway

The University of Ottawa’s quidditch team, a long-time user of the Springhurst-Lees field, has launched a letter writing campaign to convince politicians to cancel plans to build a four-lane road through the area. Photo by Vanessa Kraus

The University of Ottawa’s quidditch team, a long-time user of the Springhurst-Lees field, has launched a letter writing campaign to convince politicians to cancel plans to build a four-lane road through the area. Photo by Vanessa Kraus

An unexpected community ally in the form of the University of Ottawa quidditch team has vigorously joined the chorus of those opposed to the use of the Springhurst-Lees Park green space for a new four-lane roadway dumping more traffic onto Nicholas Street and into Old Ottawa East and Sandy Hill.

For more than 40 years the Old Ottawa East (OOE) community has fought against the construction of the Alta Vista Transportation Corridor (AVTC), but now other parties – notably the quidditch team and a rugby club – have launched a letter-writing campaign to once and for all get the AVTC removed from the City’s transportation master plan.

Quidditch was the intense flying sport played by the young magician Harry Potter of J.K. Rowlings’ blockbuster bestsellers, but it has been adapted into a real game, loved by many including some very passionate uOttawa students who for the past decade have practiced and played on the Lees-Springhurst greenspace.

“Springhurst Park is and has been an epicentre of community gatherings, practices, tournaments, and other events for our team, our guests and the larger Old Ottawa East community,” Savannah Campbell, president of the uOttawa quidditch team, wrote to Mayor Jim Watson. Many other members of the team have sent similar messages to Mayor Watson.

“The proximity of the public greenspace to uOttawa has been invaluable for students, as space, we can go to exercise, relax, socialize and engage with others and nature,” wrote Campbell. “It is also space where the high foot traffic draws a lot of positive attention, interest and joy at seeing our unique sport in action, and has been integral to our continued success as national qualifiers, and regional and national gold medalists over the last 10 years. “

The team plays year-round and its sport is a mix between dodgeball, rugby and ultimate Frisbee. It’s also co-ed and full contact “with no Harry Potter knowledge required.”

“The Springhurst Park area has served as pivotal green space over the years for rugby training as well as for uses by various community groups around the area,” Lucas Bloess, president of the Ottawa Beavers and Banshees Rugby Football Club, wrote to Watson and others.

“It would be a devastating loss to the community if the area was repurposed as a transportation corridor, and this is especially true given the impacts of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and the newfound importance of large outdoor gathering spaces to maintain social distancing,” concluded Bloess.

The OOE Community Association has continued with its multi-pronged campaign against the AVTC. The pandemic has made it increasingly obvious that the Lees greenspace is needed for recreation, a need that is accentuated by the rapid growth in OOE’s population.

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