Pricey Rideau Canal Shelters Win Fancy Architectural Award

Rideau Canal Skateway shelters

Rideau Canal Skateway shelters

Yesterday’s controversy is today’s pride, as the NCC’s $750,000-a-piece shelters on the Rideau Canal Skateway won the bronze award for specialized sports, leisure and recreation facilities from the International Association for Sports and Leisure Facilities and the International Olympic Committee

That’s a mouthful of a title with a heavy emphasis on sports, leisure and recreation facilities, and they believe the NCC and CSV Architects, the architectural firm behind the design, were right on the mark:

“These removable changing and washroom facilities impressed the jury with their design simplicity and attractiveness,” the International Association for Sports and Leisure Facilities and the International Olympic Committee said. “They show perfectly that even in sensitive environments it is possible to find solutions that make leisure activities more attractive.”

“The jury congratulates the NCC and the city of Ottawa for realizing this project (and) creating a place of healthy living. This example invites other cities around the world to follow this path of enhancing seasonal recreational activities in dense urban environments.”

From the Ottawa Citizen article:

The NCC installed the chalets at the cost of $5.24 million – or about $750,000 for each shelter — four years ago to replace the dilapidated wood structures that had been used since the 1970s.

At the time there was some controversy about the price, with some objecting that the money, which came from the Conservative government’s infrastructure stimulus fund, could have been better spent elsewhere.

The NCC, however, defended the spending, saying that the structures, with their four change rooms and three washrooms, would last 35 years and require lower maintenance costs.

At six-metres wide and 18-metres long, the glass-walled, curved-roof shelters were certainly roomier than the old ones. More than 40 people could sit on the benches inside to put on skates or to defrost. The open porches outside provide seating for another dozen skaters.

Energy-efficient design features included radiant heating panels in the ceilings, fluorescent and LED lighting, and suction system toilets such as those on planes and trains that use minimal amounts of water.

Veteran canal skaters, while nostalgic about the old shacks, appreciated the new shelters, finding them warm, spacious as well as attractive.


Learn to Camp with Ontario Parks

Grizzly Bear Campsite Fun

Grizzly Bear Campsite Fun

If you’re reading this site, chances are you’ve got a yearning for the outdoors. But after years and years of trying to pry some of my friends out camping, I get that the idea of relying on your city-grown wits to navigate a weekend of tenting, lighting a fire, cooking on a camp stove, etc., can seem daunting to the uninitiated. Forget enjoying it – surviving it would be success by many people’s standards.

Well, a little bit of knowledge goes a long way, and Ontario Parks aims to provide that knowledge through their Learn to Camp program. I originally wrote about this program back in 2011 when they first introduced it, and I noticed the other day that they’ve now introduced a “graduate program”, that teaches more advanced camping techniques.

The original 1- or 2- night Overnight Camping Experience, aimed at the 25% of Ontarians who have never spent a night in the woods, provides:

  • All the equipment required to camp (participants are responsible for food, sleeping bag, and personal items)
  • A campsite for up to 6 participants, including children
  • Scheduled learning sessions and family-friendly activities led by experienced staff
  • Access to flush toilets, hot showers and safe drinking water
  • Campfire treats
  • Near Ottawa the course is available at Murphy’s Point Provincial Park, plus: Emily Provincial Park, which is just west of Peterborough.
  • 1 night / 2 day program: $86.00 +HST
  • 2 night / 3 day program: $130.75 +HST

This is a great way for newbies to get started!

And now they can augment their skills further through Ontario Parks by trying the Independent Camping Experience.

The independent camping experience is offered only at Grundy Lake Provincial Park, a solid 5½ hour drive from Ottawa, past North Bay. A long drive maybe, but this experience is your opportunity to practice a camping trip on your own while still having access to all the equipment you need.

They give you the same gear and let you try camping anywhere from 1 to 7 whole nights, but you’ve still got to bring your own food, sleeping bag, and this time firewood and ice, too.

I love this initiative from Ontario Parks to get more people out camping, even though I know it means more crowded campsites – a major pet peeve of mine!

What do you think about this plan? Know someone who should sign up?


Gatineau Park Overnighter in the Four Season Tents at Lac Philippe

Our all-season tent in Gatineau Park: site 258

Our all-season tent in Gatineau Park: site 258

A few of us decided pretty close to Easter to look for an easy, one-night/two-day trip we could do in a cabin or yurt with a couple little kids, and a quick search led us instead to the four season tents at Lac Philippe in Gatineau Park, mainly because a handful were still available.

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Lansdowne Park Skating Court Closes After First Season

Lansdowne Park Skating Court - Photo from Ottawa Sun

Lansdowne Park Skating Court – Photo from Ottawa Sun

The Skating Court at Lansdown Park closed yesterday, after it’s first season open at the newly renovated plaza.

The skating rink opened on December 2 and was open for 114 days of skating, during which time more than 10,000 skaters enjoyed a fun, inner-city skating rink right.

Come summer the Skating Court will be converted to basketball courts.

If you’re still looking for some skating – in balmy 15 sunny degrees as it is outside right now – the refrigerated ice pad located at the Sens Rink of Dreams at City Hall is still open!


Best Pictures of the Northern Lights Over Ottawa Last Night

Outer space treated us folks in Canada’s lower latitudes to a rare sight over the past two nights: the Northern Lights about as brilliant as you’ll ever see them around here!

Browsing around twitter found a few really sweet pics, so I thought I’d share a few:

This celestial display is the result of two massive solar flares from the surface of the sun on Tuesday morning, sending a serious can of geomagnetic whoopass our way at about 10-million miles an hour. When the storm hit Earth over the last couple days … you get the Northern Lights over Ottawa like we did last night.

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