2017 has been a year of many successes for the Overbrook Community Association. The not-for-profit, incorporated, volunteer organization continues to be effective in the pursuit of its mission to “represent a vibrant, caring community in which the environment and everyone matters”.
To mark the 150th anniversary of Canada, our organization launched a unique sesquicentennial project to bring diverse groups together. The Association led the creation of a community musical to bring people together in common cause to literally and figuratively tell their stories and bring their voices and cultures to the stage. By bringing people together, we continue to work to break social isolation in our neighbourhood and help residents engage with the greater community through the arts. We were successful in raising $42,000 from the United Way of Ottawa, Community Development Framework, Community Foundation of Ottawa and the Ontario Trillium Foundation for the community musical project which is scheduled to be staged November 24, 25 and 26 in the auditorium at Ottawa Technical Secondary School on Donald Street. The Association’s Board would like to express its deepest appreciation to the team that worked hard all year to make this project a reality. The organizing team included Diewke de Haen, Wendy Dennys and Patrick Venier, along with project director Eleanor Crowder, scriptwriter Cleménce Roy-Darisse and musical director Adam Reid. The groundbreaking work the team has undertaken has been documented and will help other communities interested in staging musicals across Ontario.
The Association also found success in advocating for more socioeconomic improvements through its participation in the City of Ottawa’s Vanier South-Overbrook Building Better Revitalized Neighbourhood study. The study considered 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. In terms of input for the study, your Association emphasized 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 strongly indicated the importance of “revitalizing” local businesses on Lola at Donald and especially at Queen Mary Street. The Association also requested that more investments be made towards social service programming to benefit Overbrook’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. The City seemed to respond to our requests and incorporated a number of our recommendations into their final report.
We also worked closely with Ward 13 Councillor Tobi Nussbaum to examine the feasibility of installing a new pedestrian crossover on Coventry Road at the Hardy Avenue multi-use path entrance, along with painted bike lanes, continuous sidewalks, additional bike parking and enhanced lighting through the St. Laurent shopping centre parking lots to safely interconnect with Coventry Road biking and pedestrian infrastructure. The Association also supported the addition of painted bike lanes along Donald Street between North River Road and Vanier Parkway this autumn and promoted the continuation of cycling lanes along Donald for its entire length.
The Association, along with other community members and groups, however continue to confront a wide number of unprecedented challenges. With the closure of Rideau High School, we have been extremely active in advocating for a new community hub at the previous school site. A community hub offers co-located, coordinated and integrated services such as health care and social services. Community organizations, including our Association, are committed to the vision of the Rideau High School property being retained in public hands and used for the delivery of public services. A community hub would allow a number of agencies to provide social and cultural services, as well as contribute to economic development opportunities. We therefore unequivocally support the efforts led by the Rideau-Rockcliffe Community Resource Centre to examine the feasibility of operating a community hub at the Rideau High School location. We acknowledge the fact that in lieu of an operating secondary public school, a community hub can contribute tremendous value to local residents, which can be measured and demonstrated in social and economic terms. Our community looks forward to such social and economic enhancements with the emergence of this community hub project.
The Association will also continue to monitor development pressures impacting Overbrook, along with opposing a downtown truck tunnel portal proposed for Coventry and Vanier Parkway. Remember we exist to serve our community and need your help and input, along with financial and voluntary contributions.