Displaying the plans for Riverside Park were, from left to right: Mark Guy, Joe Petschenig, Facilities Superintendent, Councillor John Barclay, Councillor Doreen O’Sullivan, Mayor Nancy Peckford, and Deputy Mayor Jim McManaman.

Last week, the North Grenville Council, along with Director of Parks, Recreation and Culture, Mark Guy, announced a major revitilization project for Riverside Park in Kemptville. The plans include a new outdoor ice rink, a splash pad, and a new building to replace the present one at the swimming pool. This will be part of a completely new and year-round facility which will support accessible washrooms and provide year-round outdoor access to other users of the park.

In making the announcement, Mayor Peckford described the new elements planned for the park, including the new pool building.

“And what’s important about the building is it will be a four season building. So, as we plan for things like an outdoor rink, which is really intended to make this a four season park, you will have change rooms and other facilities that support the use of a four season park. We also will have a splash pad, which has been a longstanding need in the community. We do have a small one, ay eQuinelle. It is extremely well utilized, and as we grow, it’s becoming obvious that we need to better serve our community. At the same time, we recognize that when the outdoor rink isn’t in use, we can repurpose it in the summer for things like basketball, ball hockey, and pickleball. We are expecting construction to begin in early 2022.”

The new rink will be a 50 by 100 feet outdoor rink with a concrete base. Elements will include ice refrigeration, provisions for a roof structure, and it will be designed to support summer sports such as basketball, ball hockey, and special events. The total cost for the project is budgeted for $1.5 Million dollars over two years which will include the feasibility study, design, and construction. Funds for the project will come in part from Development Charges, as well as sponsorships. One arrangement that has already been reached is with Enbridge and involves the building of a gazebo courtyard, as Mayor Peckford explained.

“Enbridge, when they heard about North Grenville’s fantastic performance with ParticipAction, reached out to us, and they decided to make an investment of $50,000 in a gazebo courtyard that would allow parents and families to gather together with some barbecues, with some tables, with some shade, to help support the overall experience here at Riverside Park. They only choose one community a year for a sizeable sponsorship, and we were lucky enough to get that this year.”

The project comes under the aegis of the Parks, Recreation and Culture Department, and Council liaison, Councillor Doreen O’Sullivan, was on hand to express her delight at the possibilities the plan offered to the people of North Grenville.

“Our parks and outdoor spaces are really important as meeting places and recreation spaces, and I think during the COVID pandemic, it became even more evident how important this space is for making connections with people in a safe way. And they’re certainly more popular than ever,” she said. “And revitalization of Riverside Park is not just for young people, but for people of all ages. There will be even more to come in the future, as we proceed with more plans. But a place where grandparents can come, parents can come, kids can come.”

Mayor Peckford noted that this is probably the most detailed revitilization plan for Riverside Park in a century. The land had once been outside the boundaries of Kemptville, part of Oxford-on-Rideau. In 1902, the village bought the land and it has always been a location for community events, sports, and celebrations. The last proposed revitilization plan was drawn up in 1968 but never implemented. This new plan will ensure that the Park will continue to be, as Nancy Peckford calls it, North Grenville’s Central Park.

The new building where the swimming pool is located will offer new facilities for park users. The pool will remain as is – outdoor/summer. The pool house building expansion will include accessible washrooms/changerooms with year-round access from the outside. Mark Guy described the refit process.

“Basically, the entire interior of the existing building will be redesigned. And this part of the existing building will not be winterized. It will still be shut down in the winter. The new building will be a fully 12 months use. It will have heat. We’re just finalizing that now and hoping that the detailed design work will be done by the end of January, 2022, and then the construction tender will go out, hoping to break ground early spring 2022 on the project.”

This project has been a long time coming, and the staff at Parks, Recreation and Culture have done quite a job preparing the plan. The response of the community is bound to be positive, overall, and perhaps Doreen O’Sullivan expressed it best:

“So work has already begun, and I am totally thrilled to be here. And I want to thank all of the residents, young and old, who gave us their feedback and told us what they wanted. So very exciting times.”



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