Springhurst Park official opening celebrations: Local kids abuzz with excitement over park improvements

Councillor Shawn Menard, Springhurst Park Action’s Rick Burrowes, OOECA president Bob Gordon and a gaggle of children officially opened the much-improved Springhurst Park in September. Photo by John Dance

Councillor Shawn Menard, Springhurst Park Action’s Rick Burrowes, OOECA president Bob Gordon and a gaggle of children officially opened the much-improved Springhurst Park in September. Photo by John Dance

John Dance

After the long pandemic and a lengthy effort, Springhurst Park’s many new amenities were officially opened in September at a celebration starring a gaggle of happy children and the driving forces behind the improvements leading to the party.

Springhurst Park Action, led by Chestnut Street resident Rick Borrowes and supported by the Old Ottawa East Community Association (OOECA), worked with Councillor Shawn Menard and City of Ottawa staff to plan and implement new fitness equipment for adults, a permanent concrete ping pong table, additional benches and a beach volleyball court, as well as the new “junior” play structure which the City wanted to replace.

About 100 people of all ages joined in the celebration, quaffing numerous gallons of hot chocolate and 130 Timbits brought by Councillor Menard. Menard and OOECA president Bob Gordon thanked Burrowes for his persistence and dedication in making Springhurst an even better park than it was.

During the celebration, the park was vibrant, abuzz with many different activities. Soccer players were off to the east; teenagers batted a ball on the ping pong table; the basketball court was packed as usual; both play structures were crawling with kids and a few adults developed muscle mass in the new exercise area.

Springhurst’s new concrete ping pong table draws players from around town. Clockwise from top right: Sara Hubberstey, Victor Avila, Jude and Will Kulidjian.

Springhurst’s new concrete ping pong table draws players from around town. Clockwise from top right: Sara Hubberstey, Victor Avila, Jude and Will Kulidjian. Photo by John Dance

The evening of celebration and play was concluded with the screening of the classic film, The Wizard of Oz, presented by Gerald Dragon of the Sandy Hill Community Health Centre, an organization that has strongly supported improvements to the park over the last decade. OOECA and the OOE Community Activities Group (CAG) have long campaigned for improvements to the park.

More than a decade ago the proposed concrete ping pong table was deemed too expensive, but now it is a solid and permanent presence. In his opening remarks, Menard noted that now the City needs to remove the proposed Alta Vista Transportation Corridor from the transportation master plan so that the large greenspace between Springhurst Park and the Lees Avenue apartment towers becomes part of the park rather than being reserved for construction of a massive new roadway leading to downtown.

In addition to expanding the Park, residents are seeking other improvements, including a splash pad and a paddling dock like the one at Brantwood Park. Interestingly, a resident recently spotted Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and one of his sons put their canoe into the Rideau River near where the proposed dock would go.

Toronto resident Alireza Mohammadzudeh, who once lived in the Lees Avenue towers, happened to be in town and joined the Springhurst celebration. He was astounded at how the park had improved over the last decade. Photo by John Dance

Toronto resident Alireza Mohammadzudeh, who once lived in the Lees Avenue towers, happened to be in town and joined the Springhurst celebration. He was astounded at how the park had improved over the last decade. Photo by John Dance

Another much-needed community park improvement is a refurbishment of the tennis courts at Brantwood Park, which are now in greater demand with the growth of pickleball.  The green-painted hardcourt surface at the courts is chipped, the pad itself is badly-cracked and gaps in the fencing enclosures result in tennis balls routinely leaving the court area and rolling down the embankment to the river.

Community efforts over the last few years resulted in a few improvements to the courts’ surface but the job wasn’t satisfactory. The City has said that full repairs will be made as part of “lifecycle” work, but no date was specified.

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