As a Realtor with more than 30 years of experience in the Ottawa area, I’ve worked regularly with employees of the Department of National Defence who have been transferred from other cities. Often they have been referred to me by relocation agencies.

With more than 16,000 employees working in our area, the DND is the national capital region’s largest employer, with offices through the area. The DND is in the midst of a multi-year relocation plan, with the goal of moving many of its workers from its downtown headquarters to new headquarters at the site of the former Nortel Networks campus, at Carling Avenue and Moodie Drive. The buildings on the 367-acre site have been undergoing extensive renovations.

The relocation has seen about 3,500 workers moved there, and plans call for an additional 5,000 of the department’s Ottawa-area workers to eventually work at the site.
Naturally, many new workers who are transferred to Ottawa will be looking for a home close to where they will be working. I’ve seen it already with clients who work for the DND.

For clients who are new to our region, I’m happy to fill them in on the attractions that have long made the west Ottawa and Kanata areas popular with homebuyers.

Here are just a few of the attractions in this area of the city. Even if you don’t live in these neighbourhoods, they’re worth checking out:

The Britannia Yacht Club: Just a 10-minute drive east of the new DND headquarters, the Britannia Yacht Club faces the Ottawa River, in a spectacular setting that feels like a country getaway.

“Your cottage in the city,” as the website describes the club, has been in existence since 1887. In addition to heading out for a peaceful sail on the river, members can play a round of tennis, have a picnic on the grounds, or enjoy dinner in the restaurant, all with a stunning view of sunset over the river.

If you don’t sail but are interested in learning, the club offers lessons.

Information: www.byc.ca

Great Shopping: Just a six-minute drive east of the new DND headquarters is one of the region’s most popular malls. Bayshore Shopping Centre offers more than 190 retailers and attracts more than 6 million visitors every year. Stores include Hudson’s Bay, Apple, Winners, HomeSense, Old Navy and others.

Information: www.bayshoreshoppingcentre.com.

Fans of outlet shopping will want to visit Tanger Outlets, at 8555 Campeau Drive, about a 12-minute drive west of the DND site. The centre has more than 70 shops, including Aldo, Coach, Calvin Klein, Guess Factory Store, J. Crew Factory Store, and Levi’s. Regular shoppers here say before you go, it’s worth signing up for additional savings coupons on the website, at www.tangeroutletcanada.com/ottawa

Wesley Clover Parks: Only a five-minute drive southwest of the new DND headquarters, this beautiful 500-acre site is home to equestrian events and riding lessons, a campground, sports fields and more than 18 kilometres of cross-country ski and snowshoe trails.

As a successful showjumper myself, this park is a favourite spot of mine, because it’s where I spend time training and occasionally competing. It’s a beautiful retreat in the city, with stables that are home to more than 50 horses. There are outdoor riding rings, an indoor arena and riding lessons for riders of all ages and levels of experience, at the Ian Millar School of Horsemanship.The summer campground offers the chance to camp within the city. For those who like something a bit more comfortable than a tent and a sleeping bag, there are cabins to rent.

Information: www.wesleycloverparks.com

See an NHL game or a concert at the Canadian Tire Centre: Since 1996, hockey fans have been heading to west Ottawa to the home arena of Ottawa’s NHL team, the Senators.

About a 10-minute drive west of the new DND site, the 17,000-seat arena also hosts performances by star musicians and comedians. Upcoming performers include Justin Timberlake, comedian Kevin Hart, Elton John, the Harlem Globetrotters, Keith Urban and Cirque du Soleil.

There are negotiations in the works to build a new arena that would be located at LeBreton Flats, just west of downtown Ottawa. The hockey club and its partners have reached an agreement in principle with the federal government for the site, but there is more negotiating to do. If the project proceeds, officials have said construction could start as early as 2019. But a new home is several years away. In the meantime, enjoy the game or show.

Information: www.canadiantirecentre.com

Two huge cinemas: Feel like a movie? A five-minute drive east of the new DND HQ is the Cineplex Cinemas’ 12-screen complex at 3090 Carling Ave., formerly known as the Coliseum cinema. For what’s playing, visit www.cineplex.com. If you’re a fan of Indian food, a popular family-run restaurant, Taj Indian Cuisine, is directly across the street and has been drawing diners, many of them regulars, for 30 years.

You’ll find even more screens at Landmark Cinemas Kanata, about eight minutes west of the DND. This 24-screen complex includes an IMAX screen. Before or after the movie, you can dine at one of many restaurants in the Kanata Centrum Shopping complex. Restaurants include Milestone’s, Moxies and Baton Rouge.

Information: www.landmarkcinemas.com

A Night at the Theatre: If you feel like an evening of comedy, music, theatre or dance, check the event listings for Centrepointe Theatre, an intimate 966-seat venue near the intersection of Baseline and Woodroffe Avenues, with free parking. About a 10-minute drive southeast of the DND, this municipally-run theatre at Ben Franklin Place hosts performances by touring artists and Ottawa community groups, including the Orpheus Musical Theatre Society.

Performers who have appeared at Centrepointe include comedian Ron James and musicians Bruce Cockburn, Lyle Lovett and Sarah McLachlan.

During the winter months, there is an outdoor skating rink next to the theatre, open from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. daily, weather permitting. Bring your skates for a spin around the ice before the show.

Information: www.centrepointetheatre.com

A Day at the Farm: Parents with young children rave about the family activities available at Saunders Farm, a beautiful working farm about 15 minutes south of Kanata in Munster. The owners of the farm have created a lovely retreat for city residents, with hedge mazes and labyrinths, hayride farm tours, water activities, farm-to-table meals and play areas. They offer summer farm camps for children. In the fall, there are Halloween activities. The farm opens for the season June 2. It is open only on Saturdays and Sundays in June. Starting June 29, it opens from Tuesdays to Sundays. www.saundersfarm.com

If you’re interested in buying or selling property in the Ottawa area, I’d love to hear from you and tell you about the services and expertise my team and I offer at Nancy Benson and Associates. You can see my current listings and read about our services at www.nancybenson.com. You can also give me a call at 613-747-4747.