Listening to the Community and Kicking Off ‘Better South Keys Centre’
After getting lots of interest and questions from his blog on the redevelopment of South Keys Centre, Ottawa South resident Matt Pinder convened a virtual public meeting on November 2, and then a second one on December 9, which brought together neighbours and community members — and not just from the immediate South Keys/Greenboro area. Matt was joined by a wide variety of other Ottawa South residents who use South Keys Centre services today, and who were interested in learning about this redevelopment project and in offering their thoughts.
The meetings were very interactive and participants were able to contribute ideas and their visions for a redeveloped South Keys Centre through a Miro board — over 150 ideas!
Read on to learn about the common themes which came through!
The comments that came up most often in this category were improved biking around, to, and through the property as well as improved connections to existing bike pathway infrastructure, transit stations and adjacent communities. This could mean protected cycle tracks and intersections along Bank Street and Daze Street, extending South to Blossom Park, connecting to the existing Greenboro and Sawmill Creek pathways. Safer crossings and wider sidewalks were also ideas that came up frequently.
Participants expressed an interest in keeping retail useful — groceries and movies are useful today, but in the future, it could mean a farmers’ market, medical clinics and patio space. A balance of big-box retailers and small businesses with a diversity of services is desired. Cafes/pubs/restaurants with patios, public spaces with seating and room for small performances and gatherings, and keeping a variety of sizes for retail on bottom floors of buildings and residential on top all came up as well.
When South Keys Centre gets redeveloped over the coming years, adding residential towers, another area the community would love to see come through are public spaces for recreational facilities and community spaces. These could be parks, playgrounds, skating rinks or wading pools/splash pads. Benches and greenery throughout would provide ample opportunity to sit and gather. There could even be public art installations or areas and facilities for the community to use.
A strong theme that came out of discussions with the community was that while there should be infrastructure for cars, of course, the design should not be centred on cars. South Keys Centre is already bookended by transit stations and with the LRT developments coming soon it should make better use of the transit and connections. For where there is car access it should focus on slower speeds, intentional traffic calming and keep parking underground or away from main activities.
After the fruitful discussion from participants, a call for volunteers was made and from that, a small executive committee came together to refine the thoughts shared by the larger group into a strategy document to guide the group and its interactions with key local politicians, the developer and the city. In a future blog, we’ll cover more about the vision and guiding principles of the Better South Keys Centre group.
South Keys Centre is regionally significant, currently has no existing residents yet is bordered by several communities and community groups that rely on its services and amenities. There’s an opportunity for South Keys Centre to act as a role model for other transit station area redevelopments in Ottawa — like Lincoln Fields, Bayshore and more. We want to see this area become something great.