Where To Buy Now: Top 10 ‘hoods to move your brood

LIKE HOLLYWOOD STARLETS, neighbourhoods become hot for a variety of reasons. In Ottawa, the answer often involves transportation: a new bridge, better transit links, or expanded roads. Recreational facilities also draw buyers’ interest; few things get your kids behind a move better than a nearby rink or pool. Speaking of kids, good schools are always a draw. And a wide range of inventory at a popular price never hurts. (In 2014, almost one in three resale houses sold in the city went for between $300,000 and $399,000.)
On top of all that, a neighbourhood needs that indefinable thing called soul — a sense of community that helps people connect, whether it’s over cabernet at a downtown wine bar or giggling toddlers at a community centre playgroup. “Ottawa is a series of villages, and people want that village mentality,” says Rob Marland of Royal LePage Performance Realty.
Finally, there’s that age-old Ottawa question: what’s hotter, the centre or the suburbs? It all depends on what you’re looking for, but several local realtors give the edge to downtown.
“The core of Ottawa is still undervalued, as it is in any major city,” says Marland. Buyers’ growing comfort with buying an older house may also be fuelling an interest in traditional neighbourhoods. “I think people are coming full circle. I see people wanting the more established homes,” says Jeff Miller of the BGM Real Estate Team, Re/Max Metro-City Brokerage Ltd.
No matter which area appeals to you, 2015 appears poised to be a good year to sign those mortgage papers. Not only are interest rates low but, according to the Ottawa Real Estate Board, 2014 also saw increases in inventory that created a buyers’ market.
Ready to shop? Here are 10 neighbourhoods that are ready for their close-up.

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Where To Buy Now : SANDY HILL

Sandy Hill

Where: Rideau Street, Rideau Canal, Nicholas Street, Queensway, Rideau River
OREB code: 4003, 4004
Price range early 2015: $499,900 to $748,500
By the numbers:
Screen shot 2015-05-22 at 11.59.37 AM

How do you feel about lottery tickets? That may determine your willingness to buy in Sandy Hill. On the one hand, the ’hood has heritage homes at competitive prices, great Transitway access, Strathcona Park, and easy access to the ByWard Market.

On the other hand, there’s the mixed blessing of the University of Ottawa. Its proximity is wonderful if you enjoy such perks as a big library and an excellent athletic centre. It’s not quite so wonderful if you’re living next to a gang of party-loving students. However, the university has been working for several years to educate students on their responsibilities as residents, and bylaw officers — who recently gained greater authority to issue tickets — have been cracking down. Noise complaints have dropped.

You could compare it to Old Ottawa South in the 1990s. Efforts to educate Carleton students succeeded, the O-Train dispersed students around the city, and property values rose. Will U of O’s education initiative and the LRT pay the same dividends in Sandy Hill?

Then there’s the issue of the high concentration of drop-in centres, shelters, and rooming houses, particularly on the western edge. The city has been tweaking bylaws to ensure everyone can live together peacefully, but sometimes tensions do flare.

What’s There:


Bettye Hyde Co-operative Early Learning Centre

43 Blackburn Ave.

Few Ottawa childcare centres can trace their history back as far as Bettye Hyde, which opened in 1943. In 2014, it moved into new digs in a converted carriage house. As well as seven full-time registered early childhood educators, the bilingual, non-profit centre has a staff chef. 


Le Cordon Bleu Culinary Arts Institute

453 Laurier Ave. E.

This is the only North American branch of the famous French cooking school where you can take an intensive course in boulangerie — the art of baking. Diplomas can lead to a career as a professional chef, or you can take half-day
general-interest classes in everything from knife skills to vegan cuisine. Prefer to eat? Reserve a table at Signatures Restaurant to nosh on classic French fare such as sautéed escargots.



75 Nicholas St.

Located in the Ottawa Jail hostel, this is one of the city’s quirkier venues. There’s something for everyone, with entertainment ranging from DJs and trivia to jazz and punk bands. On summer nights, sip a Beau’s beer under the stars on the thickly walled patios. Victorian
prisoners never had it this good.


Mugshots. Photography: Angela Gordon



Vimy Memorial Bridge crosses the Rideau River


Riverside South

Where: Balmoral Drive, Limebank Road, Mitch Owens Road, Spratt Road, Rideau Road, Rideau River
OREB code: 2602
Price range early 2015: $237,500 to $1,149,999
By the numbers:
Screen shot 2015-05-22 at 11.36.06 AM

Riverside South has been “almost there” for nearly two decades, since the first houses went up in 1996. For residents, it has been a long wait for everything from transit to recreational facilities, even though the population soared by 59 percent between 2006 and 2011 alone, to roughly 11,000 people. The city forecasts that by 2031, almost 50,000 people will live here.

And unlike many neighbourhoods, Riverside South offers a wide range of housing types, so it will be relatively easy for residents to stay in the area as their needs change from starter condo to family home to bungalow. “It’s a new way of building a neighbourhood,” says realtor Miller.

The big news last year was the completion of the Vimy Memorial Bridge across the Rideau River, connecting Earl Armstrong Road in Riverside South to Strandherd Drive in Barrhaven. Until it opened, residents routinely drove seven kilometres south to Manotick or 13 kilometres north to South Keys to shop. After the ribbon cutting, they suddenly had access to extensive retail and recreation choices in Barrhaven, just a few kilometres away. Also the city is once again talking about extending the O-Train and Transitway to Riverside South. Cross your fingers.

What’s There:


Zizis Kitchen and Wine Bar

665 Earl Armstrong Rd.

If a country borders the northern or eastern Mediterranean, it’s likely that Zizis has taken a bit of inspiration from it for its diverse menu: Spain for patatas bravas, France for steak frites, Italy for shrimp linguine, Greece for souvlaki, Turkey for kofte, and various Middle Eastern countries for tabbouleh. The open kitchen, rows of wine bottles, cheery tiles, and an orange wall create a warm but casual ambience. The wine list includes both Old World (Spain, Italy, Portugal) and New World (California, New Zealand, Australia) vintages.


Claudette Cain Park

660 River Rd.

With its splash pad, field house, play structures, and recreational paths, Claudette Cain Park is a hub for local events — everything from Canada Day celebrations to Shakespeare performances by A Company of Fools — while its pretty wooded areas and gorgeous views of the Rideau River draw nature lovers.

Recreation Centre

Minto Recreation Complex

3500 Cambrian Dr.

Following the completion of the Vimy Memorial Bridge, this Barrhaven rec centre, which opened in November 2014, is just a 10-
minute drive from Riverside South. Highlights include two NHL-size rinks, a 25-metre lap pool, a leisure pool with a lazy river, a full-sized gym, and an indoor walking track.


Minto Recreation Complex. Photography: City of Ottawa



Richardson Ridge

Where: Terry Fox Drive, Huntsville Drive/Grainstone Way/Battersea Crescent, Kanata Avenue
OREB code: Not in OREB yet; will likely be considered part of Kanata Lakes, OREB 9007
Price range early 2015: $499,900 to $748,500
By the numbers: Not available for just this part of the neighbourhood because most of it is still under construction

So you love Kanata Lakes, but you want a brand new house that you can customize with all the granite, stainless steel, and smart home gadgets you can dream of? Cast your eyes on Richardson Ridge. Three developers — Braebury Homes, Cardel Homes, and Uniform Urban Developments — are building mainly large single-family houses on this choice piece of property.

The rocky granite landscape that makes Kanata a pricier place to build than most other parts of the city (because of all the digging needed to create those ready-to-be-finished basement home-theatre spaces) also makes it scenic, with lots of dramatic outcrops livening up nearby parks and the Kanata Golf and Country Club.

But perhaps the biggest attractions for buyers are the shopping and entertainment options. The nearby Tanger Outlets complex opened in late 2014, tempting fashionistas with such brands as Coach, Lucky Brand Jeans, and Michael Kors. Even closer to Richardson Ridge, Centrum offers big-box shopping and a 24-screen Landmark Cinema. And then there’s the Canadian Tire Centre just to the southwest. Richardson Ridge hockey fans can dodge the Queensway traffic completely by taking quiet (for now) roads from home to the game.

What’s There:


Thunderbird Sports Centre

1927 Richardson Side Rd.

Want to try golf with a twist? Thunderbird is one of the few courses in eastern Ontario that is illuminated at night. It is also one of the few to offer “foot golf”— the crazy love child of golf and soccer. Players kick a regulation soccer ball around a shortened course, aiming for 21-inch-wide cups.


Central Bierhaus

650 Kanata Ave.
You know that friend
who drinks only craft beers brewed by eccentric monks living in a solar-powered monastery in some country you can’t pronounce? Take him (or her) to Central Bierhaus, a German-style beer hall where the selection includes brews from more than 30 countries. Nosh on iron-seared Arctic char or confit maple pork belly, washed down with a cold Tusker from Kenya or Lvivske 1715 from Ukraine.


Acorn Creek Garden Farm

928 Oak Creek Rd., Carp

One of the nice things about living in a brand-new neighbourhood is that you’re often just a stone’s throw from the countryside. A four-kilometre drive from Richardson Ridge takes you to Acorn Creek, where you can buy fresh veggies (check out the garlic and hot chili peppers), potted plants, preserves, marinated sun-dried tomatoes, and more. In season, you can pick your own strawberries, corn, asparagus, beans … well, the list runs to over 200 varieties of fruits and vegetables.

Corn creek garden farm

Acorn Creek Garden Farm. Photography: Courtesy of Andy Terauds

Where To Buy Now : OVERBROOK

Old Ottawa South

Where: Stevens Avenue, Vanier Parkway, Queensway, Rideau River
OREB code: 3501
Price range early 2015: $219,900 to $694,900
By the numbers:
Screen shot 2015-05-22 at 10.41.49 AM

This neighbourhood has long had that real estate holy grail: location, location, location. A short drive from downtown, riverfront views, access to the Queensway, fitness facilities, a decent Loblaws, and easy access to Coventry Road’s big-box stores and St. Laurent Shopping Centre — what’s not to like? Well, yeah, the neighbourhood’s image has always (unfairly) taken a bit of a hit because of its proximity to Vanier, but the vibe is quite different on this side of the Vanier Parkway. Parts of Overbrook are reminiscent of Old Ottawa East, but house prices are generally lower. Several low-rise condo developments have sprung up in recent years, mixing nicely with the existing stock of veterans’ houses, modest mid-century homes, and interesting infill projects.The big news these days is the $9.2-million footbridge over the Rideau River, which will connect Overbrook to Strathcona Park in Sandy Hill. It’s due to open in 2016. That will make Overbrook a more appealing option for those who want to commute downtown or to the University of Ottawa by bike or on foot, without taking their chances on the Cummings Bridge.

What’s There:


Todric’s Fine Dining and Catering

10 McArthur Ave.

Okay, so it’s a couple of blocks north of the official edge of Overbrook. That likely doesn’t stop locals from dropping by to have brunch, lunch, or dinner in the cozy restaurant or to pick up a frozen entrée, a cake, or some house-made chutneys and salt rubs from the boutique. The menu ranges widely, from Asian to Caribbean, with dishes such as coconut shrimp, Malaysian beef, and lamb confit ravioli. Cooking classes and catering are available too.


Rideau Tennis Club

1 Donald St.

Dating back more than a century, this venerable club overlooking the Rideau River offers 19 outdoor tennis courts in mild months and eight courts under air domes in winter. There’s also a fitness centre with cardio equipment, strength-training machines, and free weights. Tennis and fitness classes, tennis leagues, summer camps, and other activities keep the place humming.


Riverain Park

400 North River Rd.

The recreational path meandering through this serene Rideau River park gives cyclists a safe and scenic route from Overbrook to New Edinburgh, Billings Bridge, and points beyond. Locals can cycle to work at the Sussex Drive location of the National Research Council, Foreign Affairs and International Trade, the RCMP, or the Riverside Hospital and barely encounter a car. 


Old Ottawa South

Where: Rideau Canal, Bronson Avenue, Rideau River, Main Street, Riverdale Avenue
OREB code: 4403 ,4404
Price range early 2015: $285,000 to $1,399,000
By the numbers:
Screen shot 2015-05-22 at 10.22.22 AM

Just north of Old Ottawa South is a little project you might have heard about: the redeveloped Lansdowne Park. Buyers who want to be within walking distance of such attractions as TD Place, a 10-screen Cineplex, and Ottawa’s only Whole Foods Market — as well as the newly expanded Ottawa Farmers’ Market — are casting their eyes at Old Ottawa South, just over the Bank Street Bridge from the Glebe.

As well as being slightly removed from the noise and glare of Lansdowne (except during major events, when traffic can back up halfway to Billings Bridge), Old Ottawa South has a lot to recommend it, from a charming Ottawa Public Library branch to a community centre. Plus, if you’re thirsty, it probably has one of the highest per-capita concentrations of pubs and coffee shops in the city.

Look west of Bank Street for singles and semis dating from the 1920s, east of Bank for post-war singles, and all over the neighbourhood for ultra-modern infill projects — some well executed, others not so much. Small condo developments have sprung up in recent years, but by and large this isn’t a big neighbourhood for apartment dwellers.

What’s There:


The Belmont

1169 Bank St.

This neighbourhood newcomer  serves drinks and chef Michael Portigal’s far-from-ordinary small plates, such as rabbit pozole with hominy, blackstrap mackerel with espresso mayo, and poached bok choy with sake butter. With its reclaimed-wood bar, indie-music soundtrack, chalkboard menus, and space made for mingling, it’s an urbane addition to the ’hood.


Cedars & Co.

1255 Bank St.

This independent grocery store offers a huge variety. Looking for tamarind paste for an Indonesian dish? You’re in luck. Organic gran-ola and eco-friendly toiletries? No problem. Garlicky hummus? Head to the deli counter. Produce, meat, cheese, baking supplies — almost anything you might conceivably run out of just before your dinner guests arrive is available.


Ottawa Folklore Centre

1111 Bank St.

Folk-scene mover and shaker Arthur McGregor started the OFC in 1976, and it has been an Ottawa fixture ever since. Musicians from across the region and beyond rallied for a successful fundraising concert in 2014, after the centre went through a rough patch. If you want to buy a mandolin, learn to play the banjo or bodhran, get your dulcimer repaired, or sing in a choir, this is the place to go.

Ottawa Folklore Centre. Photography: Angela Gordon


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Where To Buy Now : MCKELLAR PARK

McKellar Park

Where: Richmond Road, Churchill Avenue N., Dovercourt Avenue, Sherbourne Road
OREB code: 5104
Price range early 2015: $389,000 to $1,298,888
By the numbers:
Screen shot 2015-05-21 at 3.58.38 PM
Ask any two people about the boundaries of this neighbourhood, and you’ll likely get two different answers. The local community association says the eastern boundary is Denbury Avenue. Some people argue that the ’hood extends north of Richmond to the Ottawa River, while others say the whole area is part of Westboro.
However you define it, this area is evolving rapidly. Along Richmond, condos are sprouting like mushrooms, and you can’t throw a stone without hitting a new yoga studio or sports store. Like Westboro and Wellington Village, it offers easy access to the Transitway and the Ottawa River, but it has a greater range of houses built after 1940.
However, a giant question mark hangs over the neighbourhood: where will the western extension of the LRT go? At press time, the city and the NCC had come to an agreement —in principle — to bury the connection between Dominion and Cleary Transitway stations under the Sir John A. Macdonald Parkway. The option preserves the Byron Linear Park and allows for access to the Ottawa River shoreline, all within budget. Too good to be true? It still has to pass an environmental assessment.

What’s There:


Bluesfest School of Music and Art

450 Churchill Ave. N.

This multidisciplinary school opened in a decommissioned United Church building in 2014. From an after-school ukulele club and March break DJ camps to jazz classes and family cartooning workshops, there’s a little bit of everything for everyone. You can even join a community choir slated to perform at this year’s Bluesfest.

Recreation Centre

Dovercourt Recreation Centre

411 Dovercourt Ave.

A recent expansion (the first of two proposed phases) doubled the size of Dovercourt’s fitness centre and added a family change room and a rooftop patio. Other facilities include a 25-metre pool, pottery studio, internet café, dance studio, and outdoor rink/wading pool. Dovercourt is owned by the city but managed by a local non-profit group.



337 Richmond Rd.
Housed in a former bank building at a busy Westboro corner, Gezellig serves mains that run the gamut from seared tofu with pickled eggplant to grilled Angus strip loin with sweet chili mushrooms. The name? It’s a Dutch word with no simple English equivalent that means something like “friendly togetherness.” BYOB for a $15
corkage fee.




Little Italy South

Where: Queensway, Bronson Avenue, Carling Avenue, Bayswater Avenue
OREB code: 4502 and 4503
Price range early 2015: $269,000 to $1,205,000
By the numbers:
Screen shot 2015-05-21 at 4.41.30 PM

East of the O-Train, Preston Street is lively from early morning till the wee hours. But west of the tracks, the scene is quieter and largely residential. Changes are coming across this tradition-steeped neighbourhood — and quickly. “The energy of the neighbourhood is booming,” says Cundasawmy. At least four giant condo towers are proposed or already under construction near the corner of Preston and Carling, including a 55-storey Richcraft behemoth that will be the tallest building ever built in Ottawa.
Even though Richcraft has promised the neighbourhood almost $3.4 million in goodies to sweeten its proposal, concerns about traffic and shadows remain among long-time residents. And not every development idea for the area goes ahead: Domicile shelved plans for an 18-storey tower, the Nuovo, in 2014.
Little Italy’s catnip for developers includes an O-Train station, available land for redevelopment, easy access to the Queensway and Dows Lake, and a recently spruced-up main drag lined with bakeries, restaurants, bars, and coffee shops. Whether the deluge of new residents will breathe even more life into the neighbourhood or smother it with too much love is anyone’s guess. Buy here for a front seat to watch intensification happen before your eyes.

What’s There:


Allegro Ristorante

422 Preston St.

It would be a crime to cover Little Italy and not mention an Italian restaurant, but which one to choose? How about one that has stood the test of time for two decades? The menu may not be the most innovative — from insalata mista to veal parmigiana, all the Italian standards are here (along with a few surprises) — but everything is cooked and served with care and skill. Traditions are traditions for a reason.


Absolute Comedy Ottawa

412 Preston St.

Not many Ottawa ’hoods boast their own stand-up club. Open seven nights a week (with two shows nightly on Fridays and Saturdays), this venue is one of the best entertainment deals in town, with single tickets starting at $5 and dinner-and-a-show packages at $20. Like most comedy clubs, the material can be raunchy, so if you sit in the front row, be prepared for any stray jokes that get lobbed your way.


Gelatini Gelato

344 Preston St.

While at least a dozen flavours are available on any given day and you’d be hard pressed to find one that wasn’t delish, this little spot near the Queensway is famed city-wide for its pistachio gelato, made with hand-shelled roasted nuts. Order it by the litre ahead of time online to be certain you’ll get your fix.

gelatini gelato

Gelatini Gelato. Photography: City of Ottawa



Beacon Hill South

Where: Highway 174, Blair Road, Ogilvie Road, Crownhill Street, and Montreal Road
OREB code: 2107 and 2108
Price range early 2015: $124,900 to $589,900
By the numbers:
Screen shot 2015-05-21 at 3.15.15 PM
There’s a large range of housing stock available in this east-end neighbourhood, from small condo apartments in big towers to 1970s detached family homes. Increasingly, builders sensing the neighbourhood’s potential are building upscale infill houses. But the prices are what catch buyers by surprise.
“The numbers are just too good to bypass,” says Anneke Cundasawmy of Keller Williams Ottawa Realty, pointing out the wide range of condos in Beacon Hill South under $200,000. “Your mortgage payment is going to be cheaper than rent.” Even freehold houses often come in at or under $400,000.
Catch those prices while you can. Blair Station — the eastern end of the LRT Confederation Line, at least for now — is due to open in 2017, right across Blair Road. Beacon Hill South also offers easy access to Highway 174, Gloucester Centre, the Silver City Cineplex, La Cité Collegiale, and the National Research Council. For sporty types, the multi-rink Richcraft Sensplex is just east of the ’hood. And if your kids have lofty academic aspirations, the International Baccalaureate program at Colonel By Secondary School is a short bus ride away.

What’s There:


Pine View Golf Course

1471 Blair Rd.

Want to slip in a quick game of golf between quitting time and dinner? It doesn’t get much more convenient than Pine View, just a stone’s throw from Beacon Hill South on the other side of Highway 174. The course has had its ups and downs in recent years, but new owners took over in 2014 and have already installed three HD golf simulators and beefed up programs for families. Fore!


Chahaya Malaysia

1690 Montreal Rd.

According to the boundaries of the real estate board, this restaurant is technically just beyond Beacon Hill South, but anyone craving a hit of beef rendang or fish curry will happily make the short drive beyond the ’hood. The menu definitely leans toward the spicy side, but servers are happy to recommend choices for those with sensitive stomachs, and there are lots of halal and vegetarian options.


Splash Wave Pool

2040 Ogilvie Rd.

A $3-million renovation that wrapped up in 2011 added a 25-metre, five-lane lap pool to this popular complex, which also features a 34-metre waterslide, a kiddie pool with fountains, a whirlpool, and the always busy wave pool. Swimming lessons, aquafit classes, and a birthday party room are available too.

Photography: City of Ottawa


Where To Buy Now : AVALON


Where: Old Montreal Road, Frank Kenny Road, Wall Road, Mer Bleue Road, Innes Road, Trim Road
OREB code: 1107
Price range early 2015: $189,000 to $1 million
By the numbers:
Screen shot 2015-05-21 at 2.38.40 PM
It’s the story of every new suburban development: the houses come first, then the families, then amenities such as schools and recreation centres. Avalon — where development started in the late 1990s — certainly has the houses: more than 400 houses and condos changed hands last year. And it has the families: 29 percent of the locals are under 18 (higher than the city-wide average of 21 percent).

Now it has the amenities to match. After an $8-million expansion slated to finish in 2016, the Millennium Sports Park on the ’hood’s eastern edge will boast a soccer/football field with lighting, bleachers, nine full-sized fields, a 400-metre running track, a club house, a large splash pad, and more.
This area has one of the highest proportions of transit riders in the city: 26.4 percent take transit to work (compared with 14.1 percent in Riverside South, 17.6 percent in Barrhaven, and 22.5 percent in the city as a whole). It could be due to one of the neighbourhood’s prime drawbacks: seemingly intractable gridlock on Highway 174. Mayor Jim Watson hopes to extend the LRT to Orleans by 2023. If that happens, Avalon could become even more appealing.

What’s There:


Bananas Caribbean Grill and Take-Out

2010 Trim Rd.

This modest takeout joint in the Sobeys plaza at Trim and Innes serves up such tropical specialties as jerk chicken, goat curry, rotis, and fried plantain, all with a side of Caribbean music. It’s super-affordable — you can get a patty for $2, and there are lunch specials for students. They’ll even cater a backyard island party for you, complete with a soca-spinning DJ and a palm-fringed bar hut.


Aquaview Park

318 Aquaview Dr.

Increasingly a hub for the surrounding neighbourhood (and a selling point for vendors of nearby houses), Aquaview Park features a five-year-old community centre, an outdoor skating rink, a basketball court, and a pretty pond circled by a recreational trail. It also hosts lots of community events, like an annual neighbourhood barbecue in early September.

Recreation Center

François Dupuis Recreation Centre

2263 Portobello Blvd.

This sleek $18-million centre features two pools, a sauna, a fitness centre, a cardio room, and meeting space, along with an eye-catching aluminum piece of art called Water by Jennifer Stead. Even though the centre has been open barely two years, there’s already talk of expanding it in 2015–16, possibly by adding a gym.

François dupuis recreation centre

Photography: City of Ottawa