News / Ottawa

Health centre expansion could displace Carlington community garden

Gardeners are looking to plant seeds in a new location by this spring.

A rendering of the planned Carlington Community Health Centre, which may displace a decades-old community garden.

city of ottawa

A rendering of the planned Carlington Community Health Centre, which may displace a decades-old community garden.

A plan to expand the Carlington Community Health Centre may uproot a neighbouring 20-year-old community garden.

The proposed “health hub” would encompass 42 residential apartments for seniors, primary medical care and support services, plus some green space on the side. The four-storey addition would connect to the existing health centre at 900 Merivale Rd. This area is not zoned for residential use, which is why the application is going before the planning committee on Tuesday.

Ottawa Community Housing would manage the affordable residential side of the project, while the Carlington Community Health Centre would oversee the medical care and support services, which would be available to the greater community and not just the tenants.

All three levels of government have already signed off on funding. But River Ward Coun. Riley Brockington said it would be “devastating” to lose the community garden. The city and non-profit group Just Food jointly manage the garden’s 150 plots.

“Every possible option must be explored to find suitable, local and accessible land to relocate the community garden,” he wrote in the staff report, while also stressing the importance of expanding the overburdened, aging community health centre.

The centre’s executive director, Cameron MacLeod, said his team is working with the gardeners to find a new location.

“We hope to keep it, obviously, within Carlington so that it’s accessible,” he said. “The problem is there’s not a whole lot of green space available in Carlington.”

Just Food executive director Moe Garahan said her team is looking to plant seeds in a new location as early as this spring. She praised the community centre for putting in extra staff to help with the search.

Regardless of that timeline, city staff say gardeners will be able to grow their veggies on the existing site up until the construction start date. 

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