A Civic Complex for Barrhaven’s Downtown

The Barrhaven Business Improvement Area has long recognized that the full maturation of Barrhaven necessitates the creation of the long-held vision for a civic presence, for a gathering place, to celebrate the community: a gathering space the community can call its own. The former City of Nepean had identified the Barrhaven Downtown, of which the Civic Complex was a component, in its future planning policy in the late 1990s. This community building project was never lost sight of and now, with the funding in place from all three levels of government, it has become a reality. Our Civic Complex area will serve as Barrhaven’s Main Street. With a blank slate before us, the BBIA will work with project managers and stakeholders to ensure that we include successful elements of a Main Street:

  • walkability;
  • animated and immersive shops and services;
  • thoughtful streetscaping including sidewalks, trees, shaded areas, street furniture, pedestrian scale lighting, planters, banners, trash bins, water features, pet-friendly amenities, charging stations for cars and cellphones;
  • public Wi-Fi;
  • thoughtful landscaping and wayfinding for all seasons;
  • outdoor dining;
  • cycling facilities;
  • public art and community programming;


The Civic Complex will be built within the Barrhaven Downtown area, an approximate six-acre parcel of land, at the extension of Riocan Avenue and the future extension of Chapman Mills Drive.  The complex will sit at the future convergence of the Bus Rapid Transit and Light Rail Transit network. Exiting from the stations will bring riders to the Civic Complex within meters of the doors and in proximity to a variety of commercial uses that also can be enjoyed by local residents. 

This site is well placed within the future lineal park system extending south from the Jock River District Park to the Plaza on the Civic Complex. Residents will be able to walk and cycle year-round to attend events on the plaza.  In addition, the existing Jockvale Road right-of-way, south of Chapman Mills Drive will be repurposed as a pathway corridor to connect the Jock River District Park and Natural Lands to the core of the Downtown and Barrhaven Centre Station. 

Residents and visitors alike will be able to access the Civic Complex using sustainable modes of travel and will contribute to Barrhaven’s commitment to a 15-minute neighbourhood. This in turn will foster ‘live, work, play’ within the community and bring healthy lifestyle and employment opportunities.


The Civic Complex is envisioned to include four main components: Library, Cultural Event Space, Seniors Facility and a Civic Plaza. 


The new state of the art Library will serve both the Barrhaven and Riverside South communities. It will house collections, meeting rooms and new technologies. The library will be designed to be flexible, enabling the sharing of space with the other components of the complex. It will provide a non-commercial architectural focal point. Libraries have evolved over time and are now more places of learning than simply content repositories. Libraries can support the community in an array of diverse topics such as food and financial literacy. This aspect is important. It is time to develop truly pioneering multi-use spaces; this will ensure that Barrhaven’s place-making efforts realize innovative, productivity-enhancing, and creative benefits for the community. 

Cultural Event Facility

The Cultural Event Space will be designed as multi-purpose flexible space to allow shared use with the Library and the Seniors Facility. This will accommodate a variety of user groups, functions and spatial layouts. Improved access to recreation programs such as summer camps and evening or weekend community initiatives are also anticipated.  The Civic Complex also is well-timed to support the growing creative industries across Ottawa. 

Seniors Facility

The Seniors Facility will include multi-purpose spaces that will offer a wide range of recreational programs for adults aged 50 and over, as well as lounge space for informal gatherings. 

Civic Plaza

The Complex will also have a large, outdoor gathering space. This plaza will knit together the entire site.


This Civic Complex, right in the heart of Barrhaven, is poised to be a catalyst for future growth. The proposed retail development surrounding it is intended to attract specialty retail stores.  Over many years, the BBIA has invested in the promotion and protection of great opportunities for the Barrhaven area, especially the core commercial area of Barrhaven. The careful consideration of the development of Barrhaven’s Downtown is very important. The well-planned integration of the core with our employment areas is also key as we can ensure that Barrhaven is built differently than other suburban areas, offering a hipper and more social vibe to young workers. We need to incorporate arts and culture to make Barrhaven a complete community that attracts today’s employers. This Civic Complex will greatly enhance Barrhaven’s social-economic development and will certainly attract creatives, highly skilled workers, increase the productivity of local remote and home workers, and attract new industry and investors to the area. This is an opportunity to build something that has yet to be built in Ottawa!