Recap: Visioning Exercise for the South Keys Transit Plaza

Recap: Visioning Exercise for the South Keys Transit Plaza

We had beautiful weather for a huge turnout for our visioning exercise. Thanks to the 30 people who attended! The goal of the event was to build on our summer survey and collect input from community members on the layout and priorities for the transit plaza and park area proposed as part of the South Keys Centre redevelopment and share it with City staff and developers.

We split into two large groups and focused on three main themes — the transit plaza area, the development area and the park area.

The current area in front of South Keys Station.

Transit Plaza

The area directly in front of the South Keys Station has to cater to multiple needs. Clearly, it will be the main entrance to transit access (and eventually a dedicated through-way for cyclists/pedestrians to access both sides of the station), but it will also need to accommodate people getting dropped off and picked up, including by ParaTranspo, as well as provide a transition zone to the park, retail and residences directly surrounding it. 

Some of the main ideas that came up for this space were safety, amenities like washrooms and secure bike parking, and ample shade. Although some OC Transpo stations like Hurdman have washrooms, there are none planned for South Keys Station as part of the expansion underway.

The group discussing ideas with the development area in the background where the empty retail space currently sits.

Development Area

Currently, there are three empty retail stores between the movie theatre and South Keys Station — these are destined to become apartment/condo towers with retail at ground level. This drastic change to the space offers plenty of opportunity and attendees really wanted to see a few key things: the retail should face the transit plaza/park area, include covered walkways/shade (including natural shade like trees) to help keep it desirable to use year-round with all of Ottawa’s weather, and have lots of patio space/seating and options to enjoy later into the evening (without being a nightclub).

People were excited about the idea of having a local “destination” where friends are excited to meet up. Right now most people leave the area and head closer to downtown to meet friends.

View from South Keys Station on the very far left all the way across the parking lot to Daze St on the far right.

Park Area

With the area being turned over to the City from the developer stretching all the way out to Daze St., there is also plenty of space to incorporate park amenities, green spaces and community gathering spots. The common ideas were plenty of seating options with shade, separating cycling and pedestrian access as it will be a major through-way to access the road, buildings/retail and transit station, as well as space that can work for all ages — including children, teenagers, and seniors. A valid point was made that the community currently has very few spaces designed for teens specifically – the new park could be a great place to hang out.

An enclosed dog park for community members’ furry friends was also a common suggestion.
We like this visualization drawn by one of our younger participants.

Next Steps

Better South Keys Centre has been building relationships with key City staff, the developer and the community over the past year. When public consultations open we’ll be sure to let folks know in addition to submitting all of the comments and ideas we’ve collected through our summer survey and this visioning exercise.

As a city staff member who was participating in the event reminded us, when the community comes together with a unified voice we can help enact change and see the transformations we want to be enacted in our communities!

A big thank you to our special guests who came out to provide ideas but also listen to the community as well — many of the people who are running for city council for the wards including and surrounding South Keys. Stay tuned for a blog next week with some of their answers to questions pertaining to this redevelopment project and links to their platforms.

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