Travel Times for Library Service
For Quinterra and Hunt Club WoodsFeb 20, 2021 - By John D. Reid
As the crow flies, the nearest library branch to Quinterra and Hunt Club Woods (Riverside and Uplands), is Emerald Plaza. According to Google maps that is a 75-minute walk. The Greenboro Branch is a 72-minute walk, the Alta Vista Branch 67-minutes. Not a 15-minute walkable neighbourhood!
Recognizing the excessive distance, the Ottawa Public Library (OPL) installed a “Kiosk” at the Hunt Club Riverside Park Community Centre, a 25-minute walk. There, in normal times, you can pick up a reserved book, or return one, and select from an extremely limited selection in a vending-type machine. However, kiosk service has been unavailable for much of these times of COVID while those three branches have been open mostly for limited service.
It is quicker by bus. To Greenboro takes 33 minutes, to Alta Vista and Emerald Plaza 41 minutes. Those are mid-afternoon times which are the most popular at libraries.
Cycling takes 20 minutes to Emerald Plaza, 22 minutes to Greenboro and Alta Vista. You take your life in your hands for some of those routes along high traffic roads without a dedicated lane for cyclists.
The bus and cycling both take 8 minutes to the Hunt Club Riverside Park Community Centre. An OPL branch there would provide equitable library service to that of most of urban Ottawa for the whole of Hunt Club from the Rideau River to Sawmill Creek. We pay the same property tax rate as other areas but do not receive equivalent service.
If you favour a full range of library services for Hunt Club, like other neighbourhoods, drop an email to our Councillor who sits on the Library Board, at Riley.Brockington@Ottawa.ca or phone his office at: 613-580-2486. Just tell him you want equitable library service for Hunt Club at the community centre.
6 thoughts on “Travel Times for Library Service”
Thank you John for sharing this information. I too would like to be able to walk to a location in our neighbourhood which would provide a public space to meet, discuss, learn, access and return public library materials, without the pressure of having to buy something. That space exists now at our Hunt Club Centre, and/or could be created in an expanded Hunt Club-Riverside Park Community Centre.
It would be fascinating to see how many other areas of the City face similar challenges to convenient library access, particularly those areas with larger proportions of racialized residents, or members of the working poor, who are less able to effectively advocate for services (as we can in Hunt Club). Given that I would guess that Ledbury, Heatherington, Herongate, Bayshore, South Vanier, Carlington, and Michelle Heights face similar barriers, and the City and the Library have finite financial and staffing resources, how do you propose the needs be prioritized, and what makes you think our needs are greatest?
I’ll let our Library Services Committee respond to you. Members sit on the OPL library board.
Hi Bob: The OPL is supposed to serve all whatever their social advantage or disadvantage who support it through their taxes.
The Ottawa Neighbourhood study at
http://www.neighbourhoodstudy.ca does as good a job as I know of in getting to grips with your concern. In terms of socially disadvantaged neighbourhoods Quinterra (Q) and Hunt Club Woods (HCW) are relatively well off, but the neighbouring area around the Hunt Club Riverside Community Centre is not and is distant from a library. A library branch serving that area would also serve Q and HCW.
I appreciate your question Bob and as the Chair of our ‘Library Services Matter Committee’, I concur with John’s comments above.
I would point out just the same that the Ledbury area residents are a hop-skip and jump from the Alta Vista branch, off of Bank on Alta Vista, as are the Herongate and Heatherington folks, off of Heron at Alta Vista. South Vanier residents have the beautiful St Laurent branch serving their community.
But that’s not the point.
Imagine if we were talking about bus service and not library service. Would our Hunt Club taxpaying residents be happy with not having any?
I am not suggesting that library services aren’t important, but I do think we should consider how much space we take up in the conversation about library services in the city, as a group of people who are likely to be (I would guess) relatively privileged: we have the time and means to advocate, attend meetings, speak, etc. Not everyone has these advantages, and I would rather see us spend our energy lifting up voices more likely to be marginalized, such as the community members John mentions who live close to the community centre, and not acting as white saviours. How has the community association supported these groups in centering their needs (library or otherwise)? I personally feel we (in the general sense – all citizens) have an ethical responsibility to ensure services (whether they are bus routes or grocery stores or libraries) are provided first to those in the most need (like the vaccine). The City doesn’t have unlimited funds, especially in and after the pandemic. For example, many taxpayers are concerned about the needs of our neighbours who are unhoused, and some residents are struggling with cancelled bus routes (meaning they have to take 3 buses to get to work or school). All these priorities have to be balanced in the City budget, along with library services for Hunt Club or other areas.
I would also suggest that we do not suffer from “not having any” library service: we, like all residents of the city, have free access to print (at the branches, bookmobile stops, and kiosk) and digital collections (online). The question, I think, is about convenient access, which is perhaps an entirely different matter, and one in which we are not the only community in need.
I checked the list of Library board members and I do not see any members of our community association on there, by the way, Sue.