New Community Centre Clears the First Hurdle!

Story: Don Stephenson, CAG Board Chair

POSTED: April 2, 2018
As reported earlier, over the last several months the City of Ottawa has been meeting with The Regional Group and the Centretown Citizens Ottawa Corporation to explore the idea of integrating a community centre into the redevelopment plans for the Deschâtelets building at 175 Main Street. The redevelopment plans include the possible inclusion of a day care, a community health centre, condominium units and non-profit housing. Based on those discussions, the City confirmed this week that they are “interested in pursuing this opportunity, and recognize(s) that this proposal demonstrates appreciable social benefit for the community.”

The next phase of discussions will involve deeper analysis of the potential uses, ownership structure, and both capital and ongoing costs of the facility. This analysis will form the basis of a recommendation to City Council on whether to approve the community centre component of the project. No timeline has been established for these discussions, but Dan Chenier, General Manager, Recreation, Culture and Facility Services, has invited discussions at the partners’ “earliest convenience”.

POSTED: March 2018
Discussions have been ongoing for several months between officials of the City of Ottawa Recreation, Cultural and Facility Services Department and The Regional Group, the developer of Greystone Village, to assess the costs and technical feasibility of creating a new community centre in a restored and expanded Deschâtelets Building. The former Oblate Fathers' residence, at 175 Main Street, is an important local landmark and a protected heritage building, which presents both extraordinary opportunities and challenges in adapting it to new uses.

Old Ottawa East is underserved, in terms of community facilities for indoor activities. The existing community centre, housed in the Old Town Hall at 61 Main Street, comprises only two rooms, only one of which is accessible to people with limited mobility and with little in the way of specialized equipment for sports or recreation programs.

The Deschâtelets Building – located at the end of the planned pedestrian street and in the geographic centre of the community - has the potential to provide multiple, purpose-built and equipped spaces for sports and recreation, including a full-size gymnasium. The now vacant residence offers a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to create a community hub for child, youth and adult programs, community meetings, health and other services, in an attractive, preserved and re-purposed heritage property. Centretown Citizens Ottawa Corporation (CCOC), a not-for-profit housing organization, has also been studying the feasibility of including affordable housing units in the design of the new facility.

Design concepts for the project were ‎first developed by students in the Conservation Studio at Carleton's Azrieli School of Architecture and Urbanism, under the direction of Associate Professor Mariana Esponda. Preliminary designs were subsequently prepared by Hobin Architecture Inc. for the CCOC, some of which are shown in these drawings.

At the January 9 meeting of the Ottawa East Community Association, Capital Ward City Councillor David Chernushenko reported that a recommendation on the project is expected to come before City Council in the next two months. It is uncertain whether options for the future use of the Old Town Hall have been discussed, at this stage, should the City decide to move forward with the Deschatelets Building project. It is certain, however, that community groups are hopeful for a positive decision on a new centre and look forward to expanding their programs and services.

The following are preliminary designs for the building. The three drawings called “Community centre study” were prepared for the CCOC by Hobin Architecture Inc.

The following are the design concepts developed by students in the Conservation Studio at Carleton's Azrieli School of Architecture and Urbanism, under the direction of Associate Professor Mariana Esponda.