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March 13, 2015

New splash pad, play structures in the works for Hunt Club Park
By Erin McCracken

Plans are underway to install a new splash pad at Calzavara Family Park in the Hunt Club Park community in late August.

And while the initial hope was to construct the play feature the same year two playgrounds at the same park would be replaced by the city, there is no money in the budget this year for the replacement project.

Gloucester-Southgate Coun. Diane Deans, whose ward includes the park, acknowledged that the two play structures at the park, located at 1602 Blohm Dr., are at the end of their lifecycle.

But capital works dollars in the city's community and protective services budget won't be spent this year to replace play structures in parks across the city even though there is a backlog of waiting projects estimated to cost in the millions, Deans said, adding that means Calzavara Family Park won’t receive new playground equipment until 2016. 

“It's concerning to me that the lifecycle maintenance has been all pushed off into 2016,”said Deans, chair of the city’s community and protective services committee. She raised the issue at a recent committee meeting.

“Basically they're spending the money this year on an electrical issue that they have to fix and on (provincially mandated) accessibility standards that they have to reach and it meant there is no money for lifecycle (renewal) for any park across the entire city of Ottawa,” she said. “You can imagine in a city this size, that's quite a few.”

That is adding to the backlog of play structures in need of replacement.

“The larger problem is that there's too much demand and not enough money being put into that fund to deal with the lifecycle renewal,” Deans said. “I'm worried that we're creating expectations that we're not going to meet.”

She pointed to plans to resurface the Greenboro pathway system in this term of council, which is included in the budget, but which may be delayed.

"But now I'm just very concerned it's all going to get pushed out because there's such a backlog,” she said.

Still, news of the new splash pad is causing excitement among residents in Hunt Club Park.

Construction of the feature at Calzavara Family Park will begin in early August and is expected to be finished in late October. It will ready for use next summer.

“A bunch of us have small kids and we told them that this happening, and just the joy in their reaction,” said Jennifer Hirst, communications liaison with the Hunt Club Park Community Association.

When she told her four-year-old son and seven-year-old daughter about the plans, they happily jumped up and down.

“They were so excited. It’ll be great for them,” she said.

Adults in the community are equally enthusiastic about the splash pad, which is the community's first.

The nearest splash pad is at Winterwood Park behind Roberta Bondar Public School in Greenboro.

“People are like ‘Wow, this is so great!’” said Hirst.


Calzavara Family Park has seen better days.

Two play structures there, one for younger children and toddlers and another for older kids, are outdated.

The structure for older children is wooden.

“It's also getting pretty haggard,” Hirst said, adding that when the city replaces the structures next year, both will be situated together in one centralized area at the park, near the splash pad, “which is so much better for parents.”

The current structures at the green space are at opposite ends of the park.

Deans recently told association members that a sun shade will also be constructed at the wide-open park where residents say there are few options for cover when children are playing.

Knowing the playgrounds were due to be replaced, community association members approached their councillor to see if a splash pad was doable at the same time.

“We’ve been talking about the sad Calzavara Park as it is right now,” said Hirst. “There’s room for something exciting to happen there.”

While Hunt Club Park residents enjoy using the wading pool at Elizabeth Manley Park near Conroy Road and Blohm Drive, where the association hosts its annual summer carnival, for some families it's just too far to walk to, particularly for many living in co-operative housing on Forestglade Crescent off Blohm Drive.

“That's a good two kilometers for them to walk,” Hirst said. “But if they go to Calzavara, it's like half a kilometer. That’s perfect.

“Now we’ve got our bases covered. There’s something for everyone in Hunt Club Park to walk to.”

Some funds for a community improvement project had already been set aside when the surrounding development was constructed by Larco Homes several years ago. That pot of money is, in part, allowing the splash pad dream to become reality.

While Deans declined to provide the estimated cost of the splash pad ahead of the tendering process, she said the new junior play structure is estimated to cost $73,000 while the play equipment for older children is budgeted at $105,000 for a total of $178,000.

Community association members and residents are invited to view three splash pad designs and three play structure designs as well as an overall concept for the entire layout during a Hunt Club Park Community Association meeting on March 26 at Thomas More Public School in the library at 7 p.m.

March 11, 2015

More women needed on city council to reflect female residents: councillor
By Erin McCracken

Seventeen per cent of Ottawa city councillors are women – not enough, says one veteran councillor.

“That’s four of 24. It’s the worst it’s ever been in my time on council,” said Gloucester-Southgate Coun. Diane Deans, who has been a councillor since 1994. “The United Nations says that you need a minimum of 30 per cent women to reflect the values and the goals and the needs of women.”

Provincially and federally, the numbers aren’t much better, and at the municipal level, Ottawa is going the wrong way, Deans told the crowd of women – community leaders, city employees and business owners in Ottawa – who gathered for a breakfast at a condominium ballroom in the Hunt Club community on March 6 in recognition of International Women’s Day.

“And so we have work to do on the next ballot at the next election,” said Deans.

She first hosted her women’s day breakfast in her Hunt Club home in 1997. It outgrew the space and was relocated to the highrise on Rivergate Way 11 years ago.

“We need to have competent, confident women on that ballot and we need to get them elected and we need to help them.

“And it doesn’t start in 2018. It starts now.”

Rosemary Thompson, who, for 22 years, was a journalist with CTV News before becoming director of communications and public affairs at the National Arts Centre five years ago, also shared a positive message that was printed on invitations for the event: “Be idealistic, be brave and believe you can build a better Canada.”

By taking on risks and challenges, Thompson “has changed the world of those around her and she continues to inspire that change as a leader in our community,” Deans said while introducing her guest speaker for the breakfast.

As a journalist, Thompson covered wars, terror attacks and seven federal election campaigns.

“When you look back at her achievements, she covered the 1995 referendum in Quebec. She was the first woman to be named a CTV correspondent in Washington where she covered the 9/11 attacks, she organized the royal visit to NAC and last, but by no means least, she’s a mother and she’s raising a family,” said Deans.

In her speech, Thompson largely talked of the NAC’s vision, but also about her career at CTV News.

Thompson said she always worked for male bosses in what traditionally has been a male-dominated field, some of whom helped propel her journalism career, “particularly the one who sent me to Washington,” she said of Henry Kowalski.

“He hired me when I had a six-month-old baby and he said to me, ‘Rosemary, I don’t mind that you’re a mother. I think this is a good thing. I’m going to make you the Montreal bureau chief.’”

When Thompson had her second baby, Kowalski told her, “‘Babies are career enhancing. I’m sending you to Washington,’” she recalled. “So he was a very important, sort of, mentor in my life that was a man.”

In addition to reminding those gathered that there is still work to do in achieving “absolute equality,” Deans also assigned them some homework

At the dinner table, through chats with neighbours and their children, Deans encouraged her guests to promote women, which she said will go a long way to making a positive difference.

“I think it’s certainly important that we tell our stories, and that we get up there and talk about women and leadership, we talk about advancing women and help each other,” she said.





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