The wheels are in motion to spruce up the more than 50-year-old pavilion at Mooney’s Bay Park – a “concrete bunker” the city councillor for the area says is “well past its functional use.”
The pavilion houses the washrooms and change rooms for the popular Ottawa beach – as well as the park’s beachfront restaurant, the Baja Burger Shack.
But for years, the structure’s subpar plumbing and lack of multi-use space have cramped activity at the public park, which is visited and used by residents, tourists and festivals year-round, according to River Ward Coun. Riley Brockington.
“There’s no dispute, [the pavilion] needs some TLC,” said Brockington, who is seeking a second term on Ottawa city council in this fall’s municipal election.
In late July, the city of Ottawa announced that a “possible renovation or replacement” of the Mooney’s Bay pavilion, built in the 1960s, is being planned. Staff launched an online public engagement survey, asking residents to tell them what they’d like to see in a revitalized pavilion.
The move is a small win for Brockington, who said in an interview with Global News last week that he’d been working for a number of years to secure $150,000 in the municipal budget for the survey.
The funding will cover the costs of running the questionnaire and having a consultant draft some proposed designs based on the feedback received.
“I think most people do not want to see a renovation,” Brockington said. “They want to see a teardown and a brand new building rebuilt.”
The councillor argued the pavilion’s bathrooms need a “complete overhaul” because the water capacity “just can’t handle” constant flushing and handwashing. The restrooms have to be shut down every time a festival takes over the site, he said, and porta-potties have to be brought in.
Brockington said he’d also like a modernized pavilion to be an environmentally friendly building and contain some “all-season” meeting space available for residents, community groups, city officials and festival staff to book and use.
While he said the bottom line is to have a site that serves the community’s needs, whatever those may be, Brockington said he wants Mooney’s Bay Pavilion 2.0 to be “a great focal point of the park.”
“I call it a concrete bunker,” he said of the current building. “It’s sort of sunk into the ground. It’s not aesthetically pleasing.”
The park – located off Riverside Drive, south of the Carleton University campus – has seen some other upgrades recently, including a new bike repair station unveiled earlier this week.
The 30-year-old Sue Holloway Fitness Park was also torn down recently. The replacement outdoor gym is being built in the south end of the park and is expected to reopen later this fall.
Mooney’s Bay also got a new $2-million playground last year – a project that generated controversy because the city didn’t conduct any public consultation or get council approval on the price tag and location of the play area.
The municipality partnered with a television production company in 2016 to build the playground; each party spent $1 million on the structure.
Residents can have their say about the possible redevelopment of the Mooney’s Bay pavilion through the online survey for another week; the deadline is Aug. 31. But, if the city decides to plough ahead with the pavilion project, it will still be some time before the building gets any kind of facelift.
Brockington said he’d want to, if re-elected, host further general consultations on any proposed designs.
And then there’s the question of money; the municipality would likely seek help from the provincial and federal governments for the makeover, Brockington suggested. He said the MPP and member of Parliament for the area are both supportive of the idea – but any sort of partnership is far from a done deal.
On top of that, because Mooney’s Bay Park sits on land owned by the National Capital Commission (NCC), any changes to the pavilion would be “subject to federal approval” by the NCC, a spokesperson confirmed.
Brockington predicted all this could take at least another year to complete.
“You won’t have shovels in the ground in the spring just because there’s so much planning that needs to be done,” the councillor said. “I see 2019 really being the year where you really define the design and you get sort of financial partners to step forward,” he said.
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