Upgrades update: Ottawa sports facilities

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The concept of the $60 million sports facility being planned for by the RA Centre.

By Charlie Pinkerton

Just over a year ago, Ottawa’s once-promising 2021 Canada Summer Games bid came to a halt with the announcement that it would be the city of Niagara that will host the festivities.

A successful bid would have brought an estimated 4,600 athletes, coaches and managers across 17 sports to the city for the largest multi-sport competition in Canada for young athletes.

But while the unfavourable announcement for Ottawa whisked away the city’s opportunity to host the Games, a portion of an underlying opportunity of the bid – a push for sports facility development in the city – moves forward.

Here are some of the fresh, facelift, and sports facility refurbishment projects happening in the nation’s capital.

RA CENTRE

The RA Centre’s House of Sport is on the verge of completion. The House of Sport is a collaborative workspace home to 27 sports organizations in 36,000 sq. ft. of the redesigned RA Centre. The $8 million project included a $500,000 investment from the City of Ottawa.

The House’s office for its largest partner, Hockey Canada, is still under construction. Hockey Canada is expected to move into the space on May 1.

In the future plans for the RA Centre is a landscape-changing sports facility that would occupy a projected 190,000 sq. ft. of the property’s lawn, facing north towards Riverside Drive. The RA Centre announced in February that a $75,000 Ontario Trillium Foundation Seed grant aided its research for the future facility.

“It allowed us to visit about 40 facilities in North America to look at some of the best features and best designs that relate to designing a building focused on the principles of Long Term Athlete Development – which has never been done in the world,” RA CEO Rhodenizer said.

Preliminary concepts for the building illustrate its primary athletic facilities being a two-court gymnasium encircled by an elevated 200 m track.

The CEO said other focusses of the project are preserving current play space and integrating multi-use healthcare and sport fitness facilities.

“There’s probably a couple years at least before we have a confirmed design and model around what we want to do,” Rhodenizer said, adding that current projections estimate the cost of the future facility to be around $60 million.

FORTITUDE

Ottawa Senators founder Bruce Firestone is a leading backer of the $20 million Orleans facility dubbed Fortitude. The project is being undertaken by Blacksheep Developments, who has teamed with Douglas Cardinal Architecture Inc., the designer of Gatineau’s Canadian Museum of History.

Tumblers Gymnastics will be a primary tenant of 25,000 sq. ft. of gymnastics space within the facility, which will roughly triple that size. Its developers have stressed the possibility of Fortitude as a host for national and international-level competitions.

THE SPORTS TRAINING ACADEMY

Sean Sweeney, the Sports Training Academy’s founder, expects construction of his organization’s new home-facility in Industrial Park to be completed by mid-May. His company began renovating a warehouse property in the area in February. The space currently holds three tennis courts, a 50 m indoor track and an Olympic lifting area.

Sweeney says it will add area for physiotherapy in time for its opening. Once the facility is fully functioning, Sweeney projects its costs will be near $1 million.

“I think it’s a great time for sports in Ottawa, and it’s about time, because we are the nation’s capital,” Sweeney added.

RIDEAU SPORTS CENTRE

The Rideau Sports Centre is also still undergoing renovation. Since purchasing the lease of the Rideau Tennis Club in August 2017, Rideau Sports Centre CEO Nicki Bridgland has transformed the former private tennis club into a multi-sport facility by way of site upgrades costing $3 million.

By November 2017, the location was outfitted with two new domes, new LED lighting, and resurfaced floors in both domes. The clubhouse on the site was also modernized and opened in January. A yoga studio and massage clinic are also open at the facility.

The Rideau Sports Centre is currently preparing its seven outdoor clay tennis courts to be ready for the summer season. It’s also added a $200,000 dek hockey surface, the first of its kind in eastern Ontario.

Bridgland assures she’s far from finished.

“Our focus has been on executing Phase 1 (of renovation) really well,” she said. “The Phase 2 conversations with the National Capital Commission, the City of Ottawa and architect Barry Padolsky will pick up sometime in August.”

THE NEPEAN SPORTSPLEX

Minto Field, the turf at the Nepean Sportsplex, will be replaced this summer, costing the city an estimated $800,000. The City of Ottawa spent $1.3 million installing the site’s current turf in 2015, intending it to be favourable for field hockey use. The result was another major user, the Myers Riders football club, boycotting the field on the grounds that it was too rough. The field being installed this summer is more football friendly.

The Nepean Nighthawks field hockey club will play at Ben Franklin Park until the new field is installed. The club submitted a Community Partnership Major Capital Program request to the City for a field-hockey specific facility in March.

“The future of field hockey in Ottawa depends on us finding a permanent home that can meet the capacity it needs,” Sandeep Chopra, the founder of the Nepean Nighthawks said about the proposal, which he also led.

The cost of the two-pitch facility outlined in the application is $3.5 million.

The Nepean Sportsplex pools are also scheduled to undergo an HVAC system replacement. That was scheduled for this summer but has been delayed by the City.

To Ottawa National Diving Club founder Kathleen Murphy, replacing the pools’ ventilation won’t cut it.

“The pool is not deep enough and not long enough,” Murphy said. “The (Nepean Kanata Barracudas) can’t host anything past a provincial meet. We don’t have a dive tank and the platforms are crumbling. The list goes on and on. As far as aquatic sports go, it’s time: we need a brand new recreational aquatics facility in this city.”

ABILITIES CENTRE OTTAWA

Abilities Centre Ottawa, a fully-accessible, multi-use facility is planned for the first phase of development at LeBreton Flats. A field house containing three full-sized basketball courts – one of which could convert to an indoor soccer field – and a 200 m six-lane track surrounded by sports amenities that include exercise rooms a therapeutic pool, are planned for the location. RendezVous LeBreton is spearheading the land’s development but is still negotiationg the final details of the deal with the National Capital Commission.

KANATA CUBHOUSE

The Kanata Baseball Association opened an indoor facility over the winter in the Kanata North Business Park, where the club moved its indoor training programs. The Kanata Stittsville Community Voice reported that the KBA extended its lease in the building in March.

École secondaire catholique Paul-Desmarais Dome

The Conseiul des ecoles catholiques du Centre-Est proposed a new permanent dome at ecole secondaire catholique Paul-Desmarais, in Stittsville. The proposal, that was submitted to the City of Ottawa in March, shows that the existing soccer practice field as well as the full-size soccer field and track that is perpendicular to Abbott Street East would be replaced by the dome and another outdoor field parallel to the street. The project requires a zoning by-law amendment by the city to allow its proposed height of 23 metres. Current zoning permits buildings of 15 metres.

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