Skip to main content

New park development

Park classification

The City of Ottawa has created a classification system to define park typologies designed to meet the social, recreational and environmental needs of its residents. The Park Classification described below is intended to serve as a reference tool to guide the City of Ottawa in the development of new parks. Implementation of the Park Classification allows those responsible for parkland selection, design, construction, and maintenance of parks to best meet the needs of communities.

The location and programming of parks is determined by the City according to population and recreational service level requirements. Parks are distributed throughout a community, and across the City, to enable residents to have easily accessible parkland that satisfies a wide range of municipal recreational needs, while enhancing the public realm. All park locations shall take into consideration specific Community Design Plans , Secondary Plans, Village Plans, Area Parks Plans and site specific policies in the Official Plan for the area. Communities may benefit when parks are varied in their typologies and are distinctive in their design.

The Park Classification establishes park typologies and outlines standards related to parkland size, location, service area radius, configuration, and amenities in order to inform the selection and subsequent design of park blocks. Parklands should be of a shape and size that provide appropriate access and visibility, and offer park planners flexibility in the design of sports fields and other recreational amenities.

Six park typologies are described, reflecting the City’s parkland structure: District Park, Community Park, Neighbourhood Park, Parkette, Urban Parkette/Plaza and Woodland Park . Park typology descriptions can be found below.

District Park

District Parks are destination parks with a very large service radius that service groups of communities, entire districts, and can be used for citywide functions. They are designed as major destinations for residents and visitors, and may have a tourism focus. The size and location of each park may vary, as determined by the park’s particular focus and facilities. District Parks may have a competitive recreational focus, and similar facilities may be combined for tournament capabilities.

Design Criteria

Service Area Radius: City and district wide
Uses: Multi-use, passive and active recreation, major sports facilities and / or tournament level fields
Size: 10ha minimum
Location: Located to serve multiple communities and, where possible, situated along an arterial street with a major transit route. Should be linked to the greenspace network and may be located in association with other open space areas.
Amenities: Variety of active and passive recreation opportunities which may include a community centre, pool / arena complex, indoor / outdoor rinks, active sports fields, tennis courts, multi-purpose courts, skateboard parks, splash pads, children’s play areas, pedestrian walkways, seating areas, and shelters, as determined by the City.
Implementation: Generally City built (Recreation, Cultural and Facility Services department).
Frontage: Preferred minimum 75% continuous frontage on abutting streets
Parking: Parking shall be accommodated on site
Lighting: Walkway, parking lot, sports field and security lighting requirements shall be determined by the City.
Vegetation Criteria: Planting (trees, shrubs, grasses) shall comprise diverse species tolerant of urban conditions, with an emphasis on native species. Buffer and naturalization planting areas shall be provided where necessary.
Canopy Target: 30%
Naturalization Target: 20%

Community Park

Community Parks service a specific community or group of neighbourhoods, providing a range of recreational opportunities, and should be well connected to the larger community. They may range in size and types of facilities offered, and serve as a focal point within the community. Active and passive recreational opportunities shall be provided.

Design Criteria

Service Area Radius: Community-wide (as determined by planning area)
Uses: Range of passive and active recreational uses, which may include a community building or a field house.
Size: 3.2 ha minimum to 10 ha maximum
Location: Located along collector roads, generally at major intersections. Community Parks shall be accessible by transit and located in proximity to a transit stop. Should be linked to the greenspace network and may be located adjacent to other open space lands, such as conservation lands, valleys and stormwater management facilities, to the satisfaction of the City.
Amenities: Variety of active and passive recreation opportunities which may include sports fields, tennis courts, multi-purpose courts, ice rinks, skateboard parks, splash pads, children’s play areas, open play spaces, pedestrian walkways, seating areas, and shelters, as determined by the City.
Implementation: City built (Recreation, Cultural and Facility Services department), Front-Ended or Developer-Built
Frontage: Preferred minimum 50% continuous frontage on abutting streets.
Parking: Parking shall be accommodated on site or in a lay-by within the right-of-way, as determined by the City.
Lighting: Walkway, parking lot, sports field and security lighting shall be provided as appropriate.
Vegetation Criteria: Planting (trees, shrubs, grasses) shall comprise diverse species tolerant of urban conditions, with an emphasis on native species. Buffer and naturalization planting areas shall be provided where necessary.
Canopy Target: 30%
Naturalization Target: 20%

Neighbourhood Park

Neighbourhood Parks serve as the focal point of a neighbourhood, provide active and passive recreation opportunities, and offer a local gathering space within walking distance of local residents.

Design Criteria

Service Area Radius: Approximately 10-minute (or 800m) walking distance
Uses: Range of passive and active recreational uses
Size: 1.2 ha minimum to 3.2 ha maximum
Location: Generally located along local roads (or collector roads in rural or village areas). Should be linked to the greenspace network and may be located adjacent to other open space lands, such as conservation lands, valleys and stormwater management facilities. In neighbourhoods designed with an offset grid street and block pattern, integrate Neighbourhood Parks into pattern as a complete block or part of a block.
Amenities: Range of active and passive recreation opportunities which may include shade structures, seating, play equipment, a multi-purpose court, a splash pad, an outdoor rink, mini sports fields, or other facilities as determined by the City.
Implementation: City built (Recreation, Cultural and Facility Services department) or developer front-ended.
Frontage: Preferred minimum of 50% frontage on abutting streets
Parking: On street parking preferred, as these parks are intended as walk-to destinations.
Lighting: Sports fields are not typically lit. Walkway and security lighting shall be provided as appropriate.
Vegetation Criteria: Planting (trees, shrubs, grasses) shall comprise of diverse species tolerant of urban conditions, with an emphasis on native species.
Canopy Target: 30%
Naturalization Target: Site specific

Parkette

Parkettes are small parks that are located within walking distance of residents. They provide central green space and social gathering places within neighbourhoods, and offer predominantly passive recreation and minor active recreation opportunities within a local residential or mixed-use neighbourhood. Parkettes can improve connectivity within neighbourhoods, provide interesting focal points, enhance built form and contribute to community character, providing a place for residents to interact, children to play and social events to occur.

Note: Parkettes shall supplement a neighbourhood’s park network; they will not be considered as the sole classification of parkland in a community.

Design Criteria

Service Area Radius: Approximately 2 to 5 minute (or 200 to 450 m) walking distance.
Uses: Active and passive recreational uses.
Size: 0.4 ha minimum to 1.2 ha maximum
Location: Located along local roads and linked to the greenspace network. In neighbourhoods designed with an offset grid street and block pattern, integrate Parkettes into pattern as a complete block or part of a block.
Amenities: Range of active and passive recreation opportunities may include: shade structures, seating, play equipment, and an unstructured play area, as determined by the City.
Implementation: City-built (Planning and Growth Management Department) or developer front-ended
Frontage: Preferred minimum of 50% frontage on abutting streets
Parking: No parking required
Lighting: Walkway and security lighting shall be provided as appropriate.
Vegetation Criteria: Planting (trees, shrubs, grasses) shall comprise diverse species tolerant of urban conditions, with an emphasis on native species.
Canopy Target: 30%
Naturalization Target: Site specific

Urban Parkette/Plaza

These are small parks associated with the urban fabric. Re-development of Urban Parkettes and Plazas can be triggered by intensification of an established neighbourhood, or they may be developed in mixed-use areas, town centres and along main streets. They must serve the existing and new demographic, providing context-sensitive outdoor amenity space that is often multi-functional, all within a confined area. The Urban Plaza may also attract visitors from the extended region, depending on location.

In highly intensified inner-urban areas, the Plaza is often characterized by small size, predominantly hard surface with shade trees and other vegetation. There may be seating areas, a water feature or art work, lighting, games tables, shade structure, performance space and interactive recreational components, all suitable for the context and demographic. The plaza may be the focus of a residential area or pathway node, or associated with adjacent businesses such as cafés, food trucks or tourist attractions.

In moderately intensified outer-urban areas, the size may be larger due to more available space and there may be room for additional plantings, grassy areas and specific recreational components such as basketball, water play, tennis court, adult fitness and feature playground components.

With hard surfacing, upgraded features and multi-functional amenities, Urban Parkettes and Plazas have a relatively higher cost per area than other Park types, which should be considered in the early planning stages.

Design Criteria

Service Area Radius: Varies with context. For Residential areas: 2 to 5 minute (or 200 to 450 m) walking distance
Uses: Varies with Context
Size: 400 square metres minimum to 4,000 square metres maximum
Location: Inner-Urban core, Mixed-use or town centres, along main streets. In neighbourhoods designed with an offset grid street and block pattern, integrate Urban Parkettes into pattern as a complete block, or part of a block.
Amenities / Features : May include decorative paving, shade structures, water feature or water play, seating, games tables, play components, fitness structures, performance areas, basketball.
Implementation: Case-by-case basis
Frontage: Preferred minimum of 50% frontage on abutting streets
Parking: No parking required
Lighting: Shall be provided as appropriate for the context, as determined by the City.
Vegetation Criteria: Planting (trees, shrubs, grasses) shall comprise diverse species tolerant of urban conditions, with an emphasis on native species.
Canopy Target: 20% to 50%
Naturalization Target: Site specific

Woodland Park

Woodland Parks are a unique classification where an established woodland is preserved within a development area and integrated into the park network as a recreational amenity. Although other park types may include smaller groups of existing trees, this park type is predominantly treed. The development of a woodland park involves more protection than intervention, but may include providing pathways or nature trails, small seating areas with fitness stations, signage, rehabilitation planting and fencing where appropriate. Woodland parks will only be considered as a dedicated parkland where the community is already adequately served with other recreational amenities such as sportsfields and playgrounds.

Park design drawings and documents must include a Park Woodlot Management Plan prepared by a registered Professional Forester and the recommendations must be implemented during park development. The Park Woodlot Management Plan must include a long-term maintenance plan to support public safety and a sustained vibrant woodland ecosystem.

Design Criteria

Service Area Radius: Approximately 10 minute (or 800 m) walking distance, where needed.
Uses: Recreation facilities such as trails and seating
Size: 1.2 ha minimum to 3.2 ha maximum
Location: Woodland parks may only be constructed where existing woodlands are established. Woodland selection for Park development to be approved by the Park Planner.
Amenities: Compatible amenities which enhance recreational use of the woodland, without compromising the integrity of the natural ecosystem. Depending on the context, these may include pathways or nature trails, small seating areas, small fitness stations, signage, rehabilitation planting and fencing where appropriate.
Implementation: Case-by-case basis
Frontage: Minimum 25% street frontage
Parking: Not required
Lighting: Walkway and security lighting shall be provided as appropriate near road frontages.
Vegetation Criteria: Planting to be determined based on the recommendations of the Park Woodlot Management Plan; removal of invasive species may require removal at the discretion of City of Ottawa staff.
Canopy Target: Pre-development canopy to be maintained. Canopy to be enhanced with additional planting as per the recommendations of the Park Woodlot Management Plan.
Naturalization Target: Site specific

Planning process for new parks

Parks play a key role in enhancing Ottawa residents’ quality of life. They contribute to residents’ physical and psychological health, enhance civic pride and strengthen local identity. Parks also support the greenspace network, enhance the City’s natural beauty and promote active transportation. In order to achieve customer service excellence, the City of Ottawa strives to provide new and growing communities with excellent parks and pathways that meet the active and passive recreational needs of residents. The success of parks begins in the early stages of planning, during the pre-application consultation stage and again at the subdivision review stage, when park blocks and pathways are selected and acquired. The size and shape of a park block helps define which facilities can be accommodated while the location of pathway locks helps provide an interconnected greenspace network. The City’s annual park budgeting exercise, as well as park design and construction process, are key factors that influence the delivery of new parks.

More detailed information about the planning and development of new parks can be found in the Parks Development Manual - 2nd Edition 2017 [PDF-7.74 mb].

For information about existing parks and their amenities, please use eMap.

Parks in consultation and development

The City of Ottawa wants input from you on the design of new parks! Find all new park projects on our Public Engagement Project search tool and provide comments on designs currently being reviewed.