Preparing for winter (ii)


Parts of the Dalhousie neighborhood have few parks. One nice one is Primrose Park, between Rochester and Preston. It is hilly (the hills are made of rubble and probably- contaminated brownfield dirt from the former industrial sites). One set of those hills makes for good winter sliding.

Bizarrely, the park planners from the City in the late 70’s insisted that the park is not open in the winter, because the paths are not plowed, and therefore refused residents’ appeals not to put trees and benches at the foot of the otherwise ideal sliding slopes. In went multiple benches, garbage cans, and trees. Out went the kids’ front teeth. Later, some of the benches were removed, and now the trees and some benches are padded a bit to soften the inevitable collisions.

Don’t get any ideas of holding a sledding party there this winter … it’s not that big! Ideal for ages four to fourteen, for close to home winter fun. There is a lovely view of the downtown highrises for underoccupied parents.

The curious-looking dry pond in the centre was an early attempt at storm water management. The idea was that the pond filled with water after a storm, and slowly percolated out the sewer grate. A paved bottom made it shallow and safe. Alas, the storm water was full of cat and dog doo and it has languished underused now for thirty years. The city steadfastly says it cannot convert the area to a spray post feature even though the paved pad and sewer feature, the most expensive elements, are already here.

Designed by Hough, the park had a number of innovative features in addition to the pond. There were “rough areas” where the grass was to mown only once a year (lasted only one year, city crews could not cope, since then they mow it all). There was a “wild area” on the north, where sumac and trees were thickly planted and kids could hide out in the bush, make “forts” under the bushes, etc, and that lasted about two years before the adjacent City Living project cleared out the shrubs in favour of a grass-in-trees look. The childrens tot lot sand box has been maintained by the City mostly removing bits of the structure over time so now it reflects the trendy minimalist style. Many garbage cans were removed because they were abused by people depositing renovation materials in them. The built in chess tables were repeatedly smashed and now sit as mostly-abandonned concrete hulks except for occasional pot smokers.

The sand-coloured building that inserts itself into the park on the Rochester side (beyond the pond, in the picture) was originally to be a community day care centre, but was instead the Rotary Home for handicapped kids while parents got some respite. Recently, it was converted into a adult residence for handicapped smokers.

Today, the park functions mostly as a dog-run park, with children unaccompanied by dogs relegated to the outside perimeter. People do come from many blocks around for doggy socializing. Looking over the park, it provides a good example of the early transition towards naturalized landscaping for parks.

It snows in Ottawa, but only once in a blue moon: the shot below shows evidence of toboganitis after a dusting of frozen precipitation.

2 thoughts on “Preparing for winter (ii)

  1. Eric, the sledding is much better at the Arboretum, which is 2 short O train stops away from Primrose park.

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