Pottery or pilates? Downtowners asked what they want at community centres

The city wants to know what kind of programming people who live and work in downtown Ottawa want at community centres, parks and recreation facilities.

Caroline Obeid, the project lead for the downtown core programming plan, is eager to hear from anyone who uses downtown facilities on ways Ottawa can tailor services to better fit the community.

Since October, she's spoken with about 60 people one-on-one about ways to improve what's offered at recreation centres, she said. On Tuesday she held a small public consultation at Routhier Community Centre.

People want to socialize ... people want to connect. - Caroline Obeid, project lead

"I'm hearing the run of the gambit. From preschool mom and baby classes to more seniors fitness to more youth-engaged programing," she said ahead Tuesday's meeting. "People want to socialize ... people want to connect."

Along with taking in recommendations from the public, Obeid's review will catalogue programing at all six community centres downtown plus any other city-run gathering point, like pools and arenas, to see what's actually available.

Her review also takes into account changing demographic factors including aging and immigration to find gaps.

Ottawans can weigh in on what programming they'd like to see downtown by filling out the city's online survey before Jan. 30.

More classes at different times

Sandy Kusugak, 72, was one of the few people who attended Tuesday's in-person meeting. She takes stretch and strength courses at Routhier a few times a week with a loyal group of about 10 other seniors.

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"I like the kind of programming we have, but I'd like to see more of it, more days of the week," she said.

Kusugak worries with the new Central Library planned for LeBreton Flats, the city might move away from investing in smaller centres that provide a space for the immediate surrounding community to gather.

"It's going to be a fantastic new place serving the entire city, but I'm not sure that it really fills that job [of community centres] in the neighbourhoods."

Obeid said looking ways to downsize or close community centres is not part of her review.

"It's really about determining community need and how we can move forward to best serve the community," she said. "There is a community around all these community centres. They are all well used and well loved."

She's looking for any and all ideas — whether its more arts and culture programming and events, festivals, different sports teams or educational courses.

Obeid hopes to have her review finished for March when the public service and community stakeholders begin meetings to decide on final recommendations for the city's next multi-year recreational plan for downtown.