Home of the Westboro Beach Community Association
Getting to Know Our Field House on Van Lang
For many years, the Westboro Beach Community Association struggled to get a community meeting place. In 2007, work began in earnest as the community expressed themselves strongly via survey and public meetings that there was widespread support for a purpose-built structure similar to that in adjacent neighbourhoods. The findings identified several priorities for community building and, as a result, the WBCA developed a four-phase plan. Phase One began immediately and saw the renewal of the Roy Duncan Park as part of the 15-year lifecycle plan of the city. It included new playground equipment and a splash pad. Phase Two was completed in November 2010 and included the purchase of new benches, new fencing, a flagpole, and a bulletin board along with the removal of debris from the wooded area on the north end of the park. The most difficult phase was the third one which was the construction of the community field house. Its goal was to provide a place for the whole neighbourhood to meet and where services could be offered such as a homework club, community kitchen, recreation programs and summer camps.
Work began on the new field house on Van Lang in early summer, 2014. The building was funded by the City of Ottawa’s cash‐in‐lieu of parklands budget whereby developers in the ward must pay a surcharge when overdeveloping land and the funds must be used for the good of the community. Although there were several work stoppages during the two -year construction, the WBCA worked doggedly with Ottawa Community Housing and with Councillor Jeff Leiper to monitor and report on challenges faced during the construction process in order to ensure completion of the project. Finally, on May 8, 2016, the doors were open to the public.
Partnerships are the primary that WBCA has achieved its goals. The field house is an excellent example of this approach. It is administered by the Dovercourt Recreation Centre and the programs are offered in partnership with the Westboro Beach Community Association, the Carlington Community Health Centre, and the Van Lang Tenants Groups. The field house is open to the entire community for programming and rentals. The land is leased from Ottawa Community Housing for 22 years as a city facility.
Phase four in the work to bring the community together will include improvements and trails in the wooded lot to the north of the Roy Duncan Park.
Westboro Community Kitchen
The Westboro Community Kitchen began in 2015 and was held on the last Monday of the month. Initially, it used another location in Westboro but relocated as soon as the Field House on Van Lang became available. In 2020, new approaches had to be developed and adopted. The kitchen crew pivoted to a takeout model and began preparing about 80 meals every second Friday. The means are then picked up by recipients or delivered to people in the catchment area who were past users of the community kitchen program or the Dinner in Van Lang program which was held monthly. For more information, please call Hilary Rose at the Carlington Community Health Centre 613.722.4000 ext. email@example.com
After the Bell
The After the Bell program is held on Mondays, Thursdays and Fridays during the school year for Grades 2, 4, 5 and 6. It provides help with homework, develops self-esteem, and encourages critical thinking and problem solving, leadership, and team work skills while offering healthy snacks. Currently, students can attend in person on Monday and online Thursday and Friday. For more information, please call Natasha at 613-722-4000 extension 322
As of December 3, 2020 Mothercraft Early On Years Program is offering free monthly activity kits that can be picked up at the Field House on Van Lang on Thursdays between 1:00 and 1:30. To register, email Maggie Gomez at Maggie.firstname.lastname@example.org or call 6130728-1839 extension 290.
COVID Times – Programs Postponed Until Further Notice
Dinner with your Neighbours (last Wednesday of the month)
Coffee Time (four morning a week) hosted by the Van Lang Tenants Group
Baking with Donna (Friday evenings)
Leaders in Training (was held Tuesday and Wednesday evening) Sponsored by Christie Lake Kids
Additional history is available at:
Checkout the activities going on at our neighbourhood field house on their Facebook page.
Milestones in the Construction of the Field House
Until 2016, Westboro Beach was one of the few west end neighbourhoods without a community space or field house. During this time, community members wanting to meet would often gather in someone’s home, at the community room in the Taiga building or meet outside. By 2007, the community started to express its needs loudly both through surveys and through public meetings. A four-phase project was detailed. Phase One began immediately and saw the renewal of the Roy Duncan Park as part of the 15-year lifecycle plan of the city. It included new playground equipment and a splash pad. Phase Two was completed in November 2010 and included the purchase of new benches, new fencing, a flagpole, and a bulletin board along with the removal of debris from the wooded area on the north end of the park. The most difficult phase was the third one which was the construction of the community field house.
A first step was to establish a group called The Van Lang Interchange which was a formal partnership of service providers, community groups and resident leaders under the direction of the Carlington Community Health Centre. This group immediately began to share information, coordinate planning and programming and identify issues and action plans. In 2007, the community received Community Development Funding (CDF) which was used to conduct a community survey was conducted and to identify the need for an accessible community space.
Options were considered. These included purchasing a portable classroom; repurposing the Ottawa Community Housing workshop (motion passed by the OCH board June 16,2011); and building a purpose designed structure. For a variety of reasons, the last option was considered to be the most useful.
In March, 2011, architect Rosaline Hill, with Hobin Architecture, was engaged by the WBCA and the Van Lang Tenants group. In January, 2012, she presented a design for a field house which used the vacant land between the west apartment and the townhomes as a new location. In the summer of 2012, Bonnie Campbell of the WBCA and Thelma Harding of the Van Lang Tenants Group presented the proposal to then Counsellor Katherine Hobbs.
Over the next year, there was a continuing discussion among members from Ottawa Community Housing, Westboro Beach Community Association, the City of Ottawa, and Kitchissippi Ward Councillor Katherine Hobbs. By the summer of 2013, the City confirmed the allocation of Cash-in-Lieu funds for the building of a field house and the plan for construction was presented to community partners on July 18, 2013.
Construction began in May, 2014, but stopped almost immediately. It did not resume again until 2015. The WBCA and Van Lang Tenants Group began to lobby hard and as part of this, were interviewed by Stu Mills of CBC radio about the delay in construction but were reluctant to make it an issue in the municipal election held in the autumn of 2014.
There was some success when Stephane Giguere, the new CEO of Ottawa Community Housing, apologized for not keeping the community in the loop when the construction was halted. In November 2014, he expressed commitment to the project and worked with the board to have it completed.
During the municipal election, Jeff Leiper became the Councillor for Kitchissippi Ward. He immediately discovered that the Cash-in-Lieu funds were not sufficient to finish the construction of the Field House. He then arranged to borrow funds from his Councillor colleagues McKenney, Fleury and Nussbaum in order to fund the project to completion. There was little doubt that the funds would be paid back quickly because Kitchissippi was already in the surge of intensification. With funding assured, the City signed off on the site plan for the project on December 15, 2014.
A 22-year Lease was signed between OCH and the City of Ottawa on August 10, 2015 to allow for the long term use of the land where the field house would be built. Work was slow but finally was completed. The official opening of the field house was held on May 8, 2016.
The City of Ottawa has contracted with the Dovercourt Recreation Association to provide programs and administer bookings. Dovercourt works in co-operation with its five partners: OCH, Van Lang Tenants, WBCA, the City Councillor, and Carlington Community Health Centre. These partners are provided with free access to the space for programming depending on availability.
Pre-pandemic programs included: Donna’s Coffee Time, the Van Lang community meal, Westboro Brainery, Mothercraft playgroup, Christie Lake Kids Leadership training and Baking with Donna. Current programs are Westboro Community Kitchen, and After the Bell. Mothercraft is at the field house once a month to distribute free play kits to the children living in the area.
The facility remains officially nameless. In 2019, Councillor Leiper asked the neighbourhood to propose names but as yet, none has been announced.