Archive for the ‘Recreation’ Category

Contracting Zumba Instruction And Other City Rec Programs

- May 6th, 2013

A post on the purchasing website Merx made me wonder about how much “instruction” the city farms out in parks and recreation.

This is the most generic and recent photo of a Zumba class I could find in our archives.

The city needs instructors to run various fitness programs and classes.

Parks and rec GM Dan Chenier says the city awards 100-150 contracts annually for instruction services and the practice dates back before amalgamation. Usually what happens is, when a niche activity suddenly becomes popular, and there’s a demand from residents for programming, the city looks for experts to take on the instruction. Chenier used Zumba as an interesting example. Instruction was contracted first and then brought in-house when it became The Thing To Do.

There are other activities, like golf, which require the expertise of a contracted golf pro. Same goes for martial arts. Other times there might be a technology class where a contracted company can also provide the equipment.

Chenier didn’t have the exact figures at hand, but he estimated the cost of each contract might be in the range of $100,000 (maybe running several camps) to less than $1,000 (for one class, one instructor).

Some areas not contracted include lifeguards and skating instructors because those services are needed throughout the year, he said.

Contracting instructors doesn’t necessarily save the city money, Chenier said, but it’s an “efficient way” to deliver programs residents want.

Chenier said instruction is contracted when an activity isn’t part of the city’s “core business.”

I suppose you can debate where Zumba fits into the core business.

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Follow City Hall reporter Jon Willing on Twitter at @JonathanWilling and at ottawasun.com.

Ottawa Batting Cages And Generating Interest In Baseball

- March 1st, 2013

Ottawa, strangely, has no automatic batting cages.

Not to my knowledge, anyway.

(Although, there appears to be some in Gatineau, according to these guys chatting on the subject).

I’m reminded of this every spring when I unzip my baseball bag and soften up the mitt and batting gloves.

The Champions for Ottawa Baseball, which is drumming up support for a Blue Jays-affiliated AA team, has also noticed the lack of cages. Founder David Gourlay, through Twitter, says they’ve told the city that cages are needed.

I asked the Champs (I’m presuming Gourlay is running the Twitter account) what could be done.

Perhaps there’s some kind of P3 case that can be made if the city offers up land, but you know the debate that will follow: Why batting cages and not, say, a soccer field, disc golf course, cricket field, beach volleyball courts, skatepark, etc.?

The Statistics Canada web search wasn’t working for me this afternoon, so I did a quick Google search to find stats on sports participation. It’s a 2008 report based on 2005 stats, but at that time baseball was on a huge downward trend.

From the report:

In 1998, baseball was in the top three in popularity, with more than 1.3 million participating nationwide. By 2005, it had dropped to sixth place, almost switching places with soccer which was in seventh place in 1998. Soccer ranked fourth overall in 2005.

Softball, by the way, was 14th place.

The stats have been used before to inform a theory about why pro baseball hasn’t worked in Ottawa. Fewer people participating in the sport, so the interest wanes at the spectator level. People like Gourlay and the Champs are hoping interest will pick up again with the possible return of an Ottawa pro team.

I’m not sure a batting cage would contribute to generating excitement for baseball, but at the very least it would help straighten out the swings of us beer leaguers. Maybe.

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Follow City Hall reporter Jon Willing on Twitter at @JonathanWilling and at ottawasun.com.

Funding “Active” Recreation Programs

- July 18th, 2012

Comments by Gloucester-South Nepean Coun. Steve Desroches in today’s Pine View Golf Course package were bound to raise the backs of the equestrian community.

And they did.

As a result, we have a bit of debate about what constitutes “active living” and who decides it. Certainly there will be people who question golf as active living if you can use a gas-powered cart to take you around the course.

I’m not going to pretend to know anything about equestrian since my experience riding horses largely amounts to pony rides as a kid, but I’m guessing you would need strong legs and a strong core to balance on horseback.

Then we have this suggestion about equestrian being a “niche” activity compared to golf. If you go by Statistics Canada estimates, it’s hard to argue against it.

There are plenty of people saying the city shouldn’t be in the business of running a golf course. But it’s subsidizing arenas, pools, soccer fields and ball diamonds. If golf is the most played sport in the country — with a higher rate of participation than each of hockey, swimming, soccer and baseball — does it perhaps make sense the city keep golf in its recreation portfolio?

The other side of the coin, of course, is there aren’t many private operators of arenas and sports fields, so the city needs to fill an obvious void.

Maybe the city doesn’t need to operate two golf courses. Maybe a practice facility would suffice.

Wesley Clover Foundation Pitch For Equestrian Park

- July 11th, 2012

The Wesley Clover Foundation has sent the National Capital Commission an unsolicited proposal to run the equestrian park on Corkstown Rd. now that council has indicated it will end its lease. Also interesting in here is the foundation’s interest in the municipal campground, also on Corkstown Rd. and also on NCC property.

WCF Proposal to NCC_final

Equine Canada Says Capital Needs Equestrian Park

- July 5th, 2012

Equine Canada, the “national voice of the horse,” has caught up to the issue of the city pulling out of the Nepean National Equestrian Park.

Here is the organization’s press release sent this afternoon:

Equine Canada is alarmed to learn that the Nepean National Equestrian Park, the only municipally run equestrian park of its kind in Canada, could be closing as early as the end of this year.

‘The Park’ as it has affectionately become known, has served the community well since opening its doors in 1986 by the former City of Nepean. It has provided an opportunity for children and adults alike to experience the wonder of horses and to learn a sport which often becomes a life-long passion. It has made the sport more broadly accessible to the urban enthusiast, and for that we are very thankful and appreciative.

As the national ‘voice of the horse’ and the sport in Canada, we know firsthand how intrinsic these kinds of facilities are to the long-term development of our sport and our athletes. Many Ottawa-area citizens, including many in the disabled community, have learned how to ride at the Park, were able to compete at the Park and then returned to volunteer in one of the many shows throughout the years.

The Park also provided a wonderful venue from which world-class showing Jumping, Eventing, Dressage and Para- dressage competitions could be held, and enjoyed by the citizens of Ottawa. These events also brought in valuable visitor dollars to our city.

We believe the Nation’s Capital is the right place for a world-class equestrian facility and strongly hope and encourage the National Capital Commission to keep the Park a welcoming place for horses, riders, coaches and show organizers. We would welcome an opportunity to offer whatever assistance we can, in its efforts.

Mike Gallagher
President
Equine Canada