Monday, May 11, 2009

Dalhousie AGM 2009

 The Dalhousie Community Association, representing residents west of Bay St in the centre town area and Somerset Ward, had its annual general meeting on May 11th at the Dalhousie Centre on Empress Street. The meeting was lively, friendly, and brief. Residents nibbled on cookies and (soft) drinks while Archie Campbell, outgoing President of the association and board member for 25 years (since the association was founded), gave a recap of the association accomplishments over the past year.

Financial reports, membership review, and board nominations were expeditiously sped through.

They were followed by a panel discussion on park space in the neighborhood. Doug Gabbleman, of the Plant Pool Recreation Assocation (PPRA) which operates programs at the Plant Pool and Plouffe Park, reviewed the situation there and plans for park expansion to the west when the Federal lands become available for redevelopment. The situation with the Dominican lands was reviewed. The Dominican College on Empress has been selling off lands for decades to fund its operation (the Dal Centre is a former school building associated with the College), and may be selling off its “gardens” on the south side. The stone-walled park is densely planted with huge mature trees and grassy paths. It deserves a better fate than to become another condo. Eric Darwin produced a photoshopped map showing the lack of City park space in the neighborhood and the potential linkages possible to maximize the use of what we have got. Despite the scarcity of park space in the ward, there are city owned park spaces (eg the Aquaduct) that are unmaintained and nearly useless, and other near-park spaces like the linear multipurpose path along Albert Street that is only partially landscaped and inadequately protected against incursion by expanding roads.

The biggest news of the evening came from the commitment from Councilor Holmes to push City staff to keep the Dominican lands purchase active in the city bureaucracy, and her commitment to get the Bayview-Carling Community Development Plan (CDP) restarted. The CDP began when the previous council approved the southwest LRT line along the current O-Train alignment. In my view, great progress was made in the first phase CDP to identify desired development types, intensification areas, park and bike paths, etc. However, when the Chiarelli LRT plan was dumped, the CDP study died, incomplete. Yet pressures and opportunities continue for the redevelopment of the lands between Bayview station and Carling Avenue. As a community, we can let other projects like spot rezonings, road widenings, and LRT plans determine what sort of neighborhood we get, OR we can envision our future neighborhood first. Once the plan is passed into law, later projects are obliged to conform to the plan and implement its recommendations over time. As a community, we are greatly encouraged by the reception of the Escarpment CDP plan adopted by Council outlining how the Bay Street – Ottawa Tech – to Booth Street lands should be developed. The Bayview-Carling area needs an equally imaginative plan in place for this neighborhood.

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