For families, my main focuses were good schools and community services. Neighbourhoods with arenas, pools, community centres, parks, a library branch, and other kid-friendly facilities scored highly here. Reasonably priced single-family houses also factored into the mix — I suspect most families of four aren’t interested in squeezing into a 600-square-foot apartment. When you’re paying for braces and hockey school, it never hurts to save a bit of money on gas, so I’ve also noted the percentage of people in each neighbourhood who go to work by private vehicle (the rest walk, cycle, or take transit).
Where: Bordered by Woodroffe Avenue, Carling Avenue, Sherbourne Road, and Richmond Road
OREB code: 5103
Condo prices: $274,900
Condos available: 1
Non-condo prices: $420,000-$589,000
Non-condos available: 4
People who got to work by car: 53.5 percent
Carlingwood gives you easy access to some of the choicest west-end family amenities without the sticker shock of some other inner-west neighbourhoods. For instance, it’s in the catchment area of Ottawa’s third-ranked elementary school, École élémentaire catholique Terre-des-Jeunes. It’s also within a kilometre or two of both the Ottawa Family Cinema and the Dovercourt Recreation Centre, which offers a huge range of fitness, aquatics, dance, sports, and arts programs for the whole family. You can walk to Carlingwood Shopping Centre, and Westboro Beach is a stone’s throw away.
If not here, then … McKellar Park is even closer to many of the amenities that make Carlingwood attractive, but that proximity comes at a price: available non-condo properties ranged from $479,900 to $1,468,000 in March.
Chapel Hill West
Where: Bordered by the Greenbelt, St. Joseph Boulevard, Heritage Park, Orleans Boulevard, and Innes Road
OREB code: 2008
Condo prices: n/a
Condos available: 0
Non-condo prices: $336,000-$449,500
Non-condos available: 10
People who got to work by car: 70.3 percent
Chapel Hill gives you the advantages of Orleans without the need to slog all the way across to Trim Road and beyond: in fact, you can easily skip the Highway 174 commute altogether, taking the scenic Rockcliffe Parkway from downtown. Once you get home, you’ll be surrounded by lots of greenery — the area is honeycombed with parks, and since about two-thirds of the houses were built in the 1980s, there has been lots of time for the trees to grow. Chapel Hill has a well-ranked elementary school, École élémentaire catholique L’Étoile-de-l’Est, and your kids will have lots of potential playmates — at the last census, 19 percent of the residents were under 15. Finally, there’s usually a good selection of three-bedroom, three-bath houses on the market for under $400,000.
If not here, then … Chapel Hill East offers similar advantages and a somewhat greater range
Where: Bordered by the Queensway, Terry Fox Drive, Richardson Sideroad, Goulbourn Forced Road, the CNR line, Walden Drive, Weslock Way, and Knudson Drive
OREB code: 9007
Condo prices: $799,000
Condos available: 1
Non-condo prices: $308,900-$899,000
Non-condos available: 33
People who got to work by car: 81.3 percent
As the old saying goes, Kanata Lakes has something for the whole family. For small children and preteens, the Kanata Wave Pool is just across the Queensway and the Beaverbrook library branch isn’t far. For teens, there are the AMC cinemas at Centrum — although Mom and Dad will probably be more swayed by the fact that Kanata Lakes is in the catchment area for Earl of March Secondary School and All Saints Catholic High School (ranked fourth and fifth in Ottawa, respectively). There are acres of parks and walking trails, and the neighbourhood surrounds a golf course. The two main drawbacks are the somewhat high house prices for a suburban location and the need to plan your driving life around the Ottawa Senators’ schedule. On game nights, the Queensway can turn into a parking lot as it hits Kanata.
If not here, then … Beaverbrook, next door, offers almost all the same advantages; the houses are generally a little older.
Old Ottawa South
Where: Bordered by Bronson Avenue, the Rideau River, Main Street, Riverdale Avenue, and the
OREB code: 4403 and 4404
Condo prices: $1,750,000
Condos available: 1
Non-condo prices: $495,000-$1,750,000
Non-condos available: 11
People who got to work by car: 58.7 percent
In the last census, children and youth made up almost a quarter of the population of this central neighbourhood. OOS, as the locals call it, has lots to offer families — from a small but lively Ottawa Public Library branch to the recently renovated community centre in a former fire hall. There’s skating on the Rideau Canal, skating and swimming at Brewer Park, and tennis at Windsor Park. Budding musicians can learn anything from bongos to the ukulele at the Ottawa Folklore Centre, and the Mayfair Theatre often runs big-screen family movies. But perhaps the strongest draw is Hopewell Avenue Public School, the sixth highest ranked elementary school in Ottawa (according to the Fraser Institute’s annual School Report Card). The school, which marked its 100th anniversary in 2010, is noted for its French immersion and music programs. Teens head to Glebe Collegiate Institute or Immaculata High School, 16th and 17th place among Ottawa high schools since amalgamation.
If not here, then … The Glebe, just north of OOS, has the even better-ranked Mutchmor Public School. New Edinburgh offers similar housing stock, along with a prized address in the catchment area for Lisgar Collegiate Institute, the city’s fifth-ranked high school.
Pheasant Run (Barrhaven)
Where: Bordered by Fallowfield Road, Greenbank Road, CNR rail line, Jockvale Road, and
OREB code: 7701
Condo prices: $179,900-$205,000
Condos available: 2
Non-condo prices: $295,000-$569,900
Non-condos available: 15
People who got to work by car: 76.7 percent
Just about anywhere in Barrhaven fits the dictionary definition of a “family neighbourhood”: spacious houses, quiet crescents, lots of parks. So what makes Pheasant Run stand out? For one thing, it’s in the catchment area of the former Nepean’s two top high schools: John McCrae Secondary School and St. Joseph’s Catholic High School (ranked 15th and 2oth in the province, respectively, by the Fraser Institute, and second and third in Ottawa). Second, it’s home to the excellent Walter Baker Sports Centre, where the whole family can swim, skate, play squash, take a dance class, or just generally let off steam. In the same building, you’ll also find an Ottawa Public Library branch. The area offers a pretty wide range of fairly new houses at good prices. And all the shopping you could possibly need is available at the nearby Barrhaven Town Centre and RioCan Marketplace.
If not there, then … It has a totally different vibe, but the older Beacon Hill North neighbourhood is worth a look if a top high school is on your wish list. Colonel By Secondary School ranks sixth in the province and first in Ottawa.