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Terry Matthews offers to save equestrian park Charitable foundation seeks 25-year lease Jennifer McIntosh and Nevil Hunt
EMC news - High-tech mogul Terry Matthews wants to ride to the rescue of the Nepean National Equestrian Park. Matthews is proposing an investment of up to $30 million to create Greenbelt Stables, a facility which would include much more than horses. An unsolicited proposal shared with the city and the NCC says Matthews’ own Wesley Clover Foundation could run the equestrian park and adjacent city campground while providing many upgrades. The foundation is seeking a 25-year lease for the site. The proposal comes as current users worry where they will ride if the city goes ahead with plans to close the moneylosing centre as soon as this fall. Possible additions proposed by Wesley Clover include: * The Ian Millar Horsemanship Centre, which would attract high-level equestrian competitions, with the main show ring transformed in a show-jumping stadium with bleacher seats, canvas shelters
and some table seating. Concept drawings show covered seating areas that would likely hold more than 2,000 people. * A new home for the royal swans, including an indoor winter habitat with one-way glass so visitors can see the birds up close. * An outdoor recreation area, including space for seven full-size soccer pitches or a mix of soccer, ultimate, volleyball and football. The site links to the Trans-Canada Trail and the proposal says Greenbelt Stables would rent bicycles, snowshoes and cross-country skis. * A “forest school” to allow kids up to age six to spend time learning in the outdoors. The 100-student school would serve as a national hub for Forest School Canada and the proposal foresees similar schools across the country that the Ottawa site could support by training and certifying teachers. * Gardens that educate visitors about sustainable agriculture, which could be expanded to four hectares in size based on demand. * Space for non-equestrian
events, including the National Capital Flower Show, the National Capital Harvest Festival as well as an annual curling competition modeled on the HOPE Volleyball Festival. * Integration of the forested camping area with the equestrian facility. Horse trails would be extended through parts of the campsite. The campground would be operated by Wesley Clover. The Greenbelt Stables’ basic aim would be to attract entry-level riders to the sport. The centre would include a renovated and expanded stables and a viewing area for spectators above the indoor riding arena. A trail riding program is expected to appeal to casual riders and a therapeutic program for people with disabilities would be continued. Seven kilometres of riding trails would be maintained as well as multi-use, non-riding trails for hiking, running, skiing and snowshoeing. Wesley Clover Foundation vice-president Simon Gwatkin said the park needs to be See PARK, page 28
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West Carleton Review EMC - Thursday, July 19, 2012 25
Published on Jul 19, 2012