By Charlie Senack, Barrhaven Independent
It’s the first step in creating Barrhaven’s future Downtown with funding announced for a new community centre in the heart of the community.
On April 29, Nepean MPP Lisa MacLeod, MP Chandra Arya, and Barrhaven councillor Jan Harder announced the news during a press conference inside Barrhaven’s Ruth E Dickinson Library.
The building will include a 15,000 square foot cultural centre, a 3,000 square foot seniors’ space, and a library over 25,000 square feet in size.
“The new Barrhaven Town Centre will be an iconic cultural hub featuring flexible spaces for community engagement, performances and recreational activities,” said Harder, who has been a longtime advocate for the project. “This investment of more than $38 million is a significant contribution to community development and wellbeing and I want to thank our federal and provincial funding partners for your commitment to the residents of our community.”
While Barrhaven is home to the Minto Recreation centre in Half Moon Bay and the Walter Baker Centre which includes a library, the closest performing arts facility is in Centerpointe.
“Cultural infrastructure is vital in ensuring community development and wellbeing,” said Arya. “Today’s investment will provide thousands of Barrhaven residents access to a modern, welcoming space where they can come together to enjoy cultural events, learn, and socialize. This fills a big gap we had in Barrhaven for many years.”
In November 2019 Ottawa’s planning committee endorsed plans for a future Barrhaven downtown, which will include a mix of residential and commercial spaces on the 165-hectare plot of land behind Barrhaven’s Loblaws and movie theatre.
In at least a decade from now, the plan includes transforming the current bus rapid transitway into phase 3 of Ottawa’s light rail transit system, with another Chapman Mills BRT connecting to it.
“We have the south-west transitway that goes behind the Canadian Tire and in between the LCBO and the Loblaws, and then we have the Chapman Mills BRT that comes across the river from Riverside South and along Chapman Mills drive,” explained Harder. “It will certainly be connected to the extension of the LRT opening at the end of this year or beginning of next year in Riverside South.”
Also included is 11,000 dwelling units which would represent a 68-year housing supply for the neighborhood, according to a staff report. New businesses in the site will also bring 12,600 jobs to the growing suburban community.
“Over the past 16 years, I’ve worked hard to ensure that our roads, bridges and schools have kept up with the fast pace of growth in Barrhaven,” said MacLeod. “Being able to deliver on the Barrhaven Town Centre, therefore is doubly meaningful for me as the local MPP and the Minister responsible for public libraries, culture and performance arts.”
The Barrhaven BIA, which has invested tens of thousands into studies for the project, say they couldn’t be more pleased to finally see the project get off the ground after years of planning.
It’s unclear when construction will begin, but the funding announcement allows for the project to go forward with complete land aspects and then design.
“While we have lots of ideas, first the Ottawa Library Board has its say and then the process begins,” says Harder. “The Library, Performing Arts, Cultural and Seniors Centre project will be led by Ottawa’s Infrastructure Services and will require the co-operation and adive of both Parks Recreation and the Ottawa Public Library.”
This is a developing story. More to come…