Ottawa's Dragon Boat Festival draws teams from across Eastern Canada and the US. The competitive paddlers take over Mooney's Bay, pitching their tents and settling in for the weekend. Add concession stands, vendors and entertainment and you've got a festival that covers the entire park.
So, when Ottawa residents learned the city had partnered with a reality TV Show to build Canada's largest children's playground at Mooney's Bay there was concern about what it would mean to the Dragon Boat Festival. Organizers had not been notified or consulted. They were also not told that trees had to be cut down and the Sue Holoway Fitness area for Adults removed to make way for the playground.
Opponents of the playground are fighting the plan because there was no public input. They are convinced the Dragon Boat Festival will be negatively impacted, the Hope Beach Volleyball Weekend too.
On Sunday I headed down to Mooney's Bay to see for myself if playground area was affecting the Dragon Boaters. What I found was a large area - covered by a thick layer of wood chips. This would be the playground. It was obvious organizers had assigned the tenters their sites prior to learning of the city's plan. Many paddlers, from out of town, found themselves pitching their tents on the bed of wood chips. Many of those I talked to were not impressed. Some were able to move, or asked to be relocated. Others put up with it. Most of the complaints however had to do with the lack of shade on a hot weekend.
Petitions to stop the playground from going ahead were circulated at the Dragon Boat Festival.
Opponents vow the fight to reclaim the site is not over.