The Overbrook Community Association is pleased to be participating in the City of Ottawa’s Building Better Revitalized Neighbourhoods study that is focused on the Vanier-South and Overbrook area. The study will be designed to consider a range of economic development incentives and initiatives for businesses along St. Laurent Boulevard, as well as ways to improve pedestrian and cycling routes along the street and its commercial area. The study will also help the City determine how it should go about coordinating its ongoing and upcoming projects in the area, and also examine key sites within the area that may be subject to redevelopment.
In terms of feedback, the Association has told the City planner in charge of the study that it would like to see the City commit to “human-scale” development along the St. Laurent corridor and in its adjacent areas in Overbrook and Castle Heights. Despite the study’s St. Laurent focus, we also strongly indicated the importance of “revitalizing” local businesses on Lola at Donald and especially at Queen Mary Street; and also have requested that better connections be created between Overbrook and the future St. Laurent light rapid transit (LRT) station. With a large number of low-income residents dependent on public transport, we further recommended that better bus routes and connections be reinstated and that Donald Street continue to be considered for enhanced cycling infrastructure. The Association also requested that more investments be made towards social service programming to benefit our neighbourhood’s low-income residents and to keep numerous Ottawa Community Housing properties in our community in a “state of good repair” with improved public safety measures.
We also mentioned that underfunded neighbourhood programming for disadvantaged youth, such as the non-traditional evening and weekend after-school “AlivEducation” program at the Overbrook Community Centre, requires access to sustainable, long-term government funding. Included in our recommendations was also a request that the Rideau High School property remain a public asset, to be used for either educational purposes, or as an officially designated community hub. While OCA supports continued examination of all legal and political options that will ensure that the school remains open for decades to come and has taken a number of actions, including petitioning the Ministry of Education for an administrative review and the provincial Ombudsman for a general investigation into the school closure process, we are also concurrently committed to supporting the continued use of the school site as a public-owned facility operated by community groups in the public interest.
Due to the many issues challenging the quality of life of our community, we are extremely satisfied that the City has launched this study. The Association is happy to have hosted Melanie Knight, a planner at the City, on May 18 at a public meeting, where neighbours provided opinions, comments and feedback on priorities for revitalization. A draft of the study is tentatively targeted for completion by October and for presentation to City Council by the end of the year. We have indicated our hope that such a plan represent a “Marshall Plan” for our community.
With massive development pressures impacting Overbrook, along with a proposed downtown truck tunnel portal that we persist in opposing, the Association continues to support the creation of a new City-led Community Development Plan. The Association continues to reiterate its request that the City Planning and Growth Management Department include Overbrook among those communities for which a Community Development Plan is created. With high levels of intensification occurring in Overbrook, especially on the Vanier Parkway corridor, we believe that such a plan is essential to guide future development in our community, especially since such a study has not been conducted since 1979.