Neighbourhoods

Best Neighbourhood Enclaves 2013: West

Best Neighbourhood Enclaves 2013: West (Alta Vista)
Diversity in Alta Vista: The neighbourhood of Alta Vista is actually made up of a number of enclaves, each with its own sensibility. Many of the houses were built in the 1960s, when lot sizes were larger. The area is just a stone’s throw from the General campus of the Ottawa Hospital and CHEO, making it attractive to medical professsionals

ON THE EDGE OF WELLINGTON VILLAGE
Champlain Park

Wellington Village has been wildly popular for years, but many house seekers stop their search at Scott Street. And that’s a shame, because this enclave of about 360 houses offers easy access to all the perks of Wellington Village — the Parkdale Market, the Great Canadian Theatre Company, great restaurants — on quieter tree-shaded streets. Despite its size, it’s home to a nice range of amenities, including a school, a community centre, a wading pool, an ice rink, and a park; the Ottawa River is a stone’s throw to the north. It even has its own Transitway station at Tunney’s Pasture. The housing stock is a diverse mix of two-storey pre-war houses, post-war victory houses, baby boom ranch houses, and modern infill.

All this charm isn’t cheap, however. Even small houses are going for a cool half million these days, and rubbing shoulders with ambassadors and old money along the northern tip of Island Park Drive costs a lot more.

OREB code: 4301
Boundaries: Tunney’s Pasture, the Ottawa River, Island Park Drive, and Scott Street
Low/high listings, March 2013: Three-bedroom bungalow with eat-in kitchen and fireplace, 121 Northwestern Ave., $589,900; six-bedroom 5,000-square-foot house on huge lot, 239 Island Park Dr., $1,680,000
If not here, then: Manor Park, just east of Rockcliffe Park, also has leafy streets, a local school, a range of housing types, recreational programs, and easy access to the Ottawa River.


SMALL IS BEAUTIFUL
East Carlington

They look like dollhouses, individually charm-ing and collectively well-behaved as they parade in military ranks along streets bearing such warlike names as Admiral and General. Carlington — south of Carling and west of the Experimental Farm — developed rapidly in the late 1940s when these sturdy little houses were built for veterans. Ottawa suffered an acute post-war shortage of housing when six years’ worth of young men and women flooded back into civilian life, married, and started families. Central (now Canada) Housing and Mortgage Corporation was established in 1946 with orders to provide these hordes with small, decent, and affordable houses.

Thousands of housing units resulted in Carlington, all built in a hurry and most adhering to a simple two-bedroom plan with peaked roof. Though the southern and western parts of Carlington have fallen on hard times recently, the sector between Fisher and Merivale maintains its historic shape, its peaceful character, and its adorably small scale.

OREB code: 5302
Boundaries: Carling Avenue, Merivale Road, Shillington Avenue, Fisher Avenue
Low/high listings, March 2013: Nicely renovated two-bedroom veteran’s house on busy street, 853 Merivale Rd., $344,900; two-storey five-bedroom house with finished basement, 124 Anna Ave., $529,000
If not here, then: Parts of Alta Vista, particularly Riverview Park and the area just south of Alta Vista and Kilborn, have a different vibe and higher prices than East Carlington. However, they do have a number of (often extensively renovated) victory houses, interspersed with other housing types.


Best Neighbourhood Enclaves 2013: West (Champlain Park)
High on Rothwell Heights: Its dramatic landscape gives this east-end neighbourhood a real identity as an urban enclave. Several hundred houses are tucked into the gullies and slopes of the heights. Residents extol the virtues of the enclave’s large lots, winding streets, and mature trees

ALMOST BEACHFRONT
Britannia Village

You’re unlikely to stumble across Britannia Village unless you’re looking for it: its core consists of fewer than a dozen streets tucked between the Ottawa River and Mud Lake (a great birding destination that is prettier than it sounds), north of a very different landscape of apartment blocks. The eclectic collection of houses — some adorned with second-floor balconies, gingerbread trim, ornate gables, and other traditional details — feels like a slice of cottage country. Once upon a time, it was.

The area’s roots date back to a gristmill and sawmill built in the 1820s. By the early 1900s, Ottawans were taking day trips by streetcar to stroll along Britannia’s pier or to swim; a fortunate few built summer houses in the village. Ottawa annexed the area in 1950, a few years after returning veterans started building year-round homes there. The streetcars stopped running in 1959. In the intervening half-century, some new houses have sprung up, but the small-town feeling remains.

OREB code: 6102
Boundaries:Howe Street, Ottawa River, Mud Lake
Low/high listings, March 2013: Renovated two-bedroom bungalow with finished basement, 2680 Howe St., $359,000; ultra-modern four-bedroom house with 12-foot quartz kitchen island, 109 Britannia Rd., $1,495,000
Added bonus: The venerable Britannia Yacht Club, incorporated in 1895, occupies a piece of prime real estate on the water and offers sailing lessons, a snooker room, a dining room and bar, tennis courts, and other goodies for members.


GROWING UP BRADY
Crystal Beach

Looking for a family-friendly Brady Bunch vibe? Look no further than Crystal Beach. About half the houses in this neighbourhood and adjacent Lakeview Park were built in the 1960s, and many are low-slung ranch houses and bungalows reminiscent of the Brady pad. If you don’t need a big family home, you can also find a range of condo buildings strung along Carling Avenue and Corkstown Road.

Once people buy here, they tend to stay; the annual rate of residents moving in and out is about half the city average. Maybe it’s the water: appropriately enough for a neighbourhood with “beach” in its name, access to the Ottawa River is a big part of this area’s charm. Locals are within a stone’s throw of both the Nepean Sailing Club and Andrew Haydon Park. Shopaholics like this triangular enclave for its proximity to Bayshore, while high-tech types enjoy a quick commute to the Kanata North Business Park.

OREB code: 7002
Boundaries: Corkstown Road, Carling Avenue, and Moodie Drive
Low/high listings, March 2013: Two-storey two-bedroom condo apartment, 12 Corkstown Rd., Suite 121, $264,900; updated three-bedroom bungalow with fully finished basement, 14 Marsden Pl., $439,900
If not here, then: There are lots of 1960s and 1970s bungalows in Riverside Park, along with two-storey houses and condo apartments. But the key factor that makes this enclave similar to Crystal Beach is its proximity to waterfront sand — in this case, Mooney’s Bay Beach.


Best Neighbourhood Enclaves 2013: West (Trailwest)
Tech heaven in Trailwest: Located on the southern edge of Kanata, the enclave of Trailwest looks from the outside like many other brand new suburbs, with its mix of single-family houses and townhouses. But suburbanites working in the area have been impressed by the promise of home networks and fibre-optic connections as standard features. Buyers can also have smart lighting, home entertainment, security, and other high-tech packages integrated into their houses

SPACE TO GROW
Qualicum/Graham Park

Many of the houses in this quiet neighbourhood are substantial two-storey affairs on large lots, built in the 1960s and 1970s. With three parks, a creek, and the adjacent Greenbelt, there’s no shortage of open air for nature lovers. And the convenient location — near the Queensway-Carleton Hospital, Bayshore Shopping Centre, and Ikea and with easy access to the Queensway — makes Qualicum popular with families. According to the last census, almost half of the enclave’s 633 households had kids living at home. An active community association organizes annual winter carnivals and other family-friendly events, many taking place in Nanaimo Park and the nearby new community centre.

But not everyone in the ’hood is parenting young kids. Empty nesters and singles have a growing range of housing options too. New condo developments springing up around the fringes of the neighbourhood include Qualicum Woods Crossing at Morrison Drive and Baseline Road, where communal amenities include a games room, sauna, barbecue patio, and private movie-screening room.

OREB code: 7102
Boundaries: The Queensway, Baseline Road, Richmond Road, and Morrison Drive
Low/high listings, March 2013: Five-bedroom three-bathroom house with fireplace, 97 Queensline Dr., $515,000; five-bedroom cul-de-sac house with sauna, wine cellar, and in-ground pool, 7 Cowichan Ave., $1,680,000
If not here, then: Try Playfair Park in Alta Vista, just a stone’s throw from the General campus of the Ottawa Hospital. The spacious houses are roughly the same vintage as those in Qualicum. This enclave is closer to downtown, but access to shopping and the Queensway isn’t as good.


THE FUTURE IS NOW
Trailwest

On the southern edge of Kanata, Trailwest is designed to appeal to tech-savvy types. But even those who barely know the Internet from a fishing net will appreciate the new neighbourhood’s proximity to established schools and shopping in Glen Cairn and Bridlewood.

From the outside, it looks like many other brand new suburbs: freshly minted curving streets, a mix of single-family houses and townhouses, a few nearby big-box stores. And at first glance, the development’s model houses — by Monarch, Tartan, and Valecraft — seem similar to other new builds, with coveted details such as walk-in closets and second-floor laundry facilities. But look closely at the plugs throughout the houses. As well as electrical outlets, each panel includes telephone, coaxial, and data jacks. In fact, all the houses come with home networks and fibre-optic connections as standard pre-installed features. Buyers can also arrange to have smart lighting, home entertainment, security, and other high-tech packages integrated into their new houses.

OREB code: 9003
Boundaries: Eagleson Road, Fernbank Road, Terry Fox Drive, and Michael Cowpland Drive
Low/high listings, March 2013 (these are new houses): Monarch’s Alliance model, three-bedroom executive townhome, 1,751 square feet, $285,490; Valecraft’s Marseilles II model, three-bedroom townhome with more than 40 upgrades, 2,096 square feet, 560 Barrick Hill, $399,900 (including HST)
Added bonus: A relatively quick trip up Terry Fox Drive gets you to events at Scotiabank Place without the need to suffer traffic jams on the Queensway.