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This Ottawa parent was frustrated by the City of Ottawa’s website – So she built her own

It’s been a longstanding struggle for Ottawa parents – navigating the city’s activities website to find programs and classes.

One Ottawa parent thought instead of spending hours searching for activities and summer camps for her 4-year-old son, she would make her own website with the help of artificial intelligence to better organize the overwhelming number of classes and programs available.

“I wanted to try to find activities for him and clicking one facility at a time and looking at the schedule was not sustainable for 102 facilities,” Claudie Larouche shared with CTV Morning Live.

Every season, the city offers hundreds of programs and activities, from swimming lessons to yoga classes, to summer camps and events. Over 100 recreation centres across the city offer the activities and are all available on Ottawa.ca, but parents have to search through each individual facility’s website to find their desired program.

Larouche’s website, built with the help of ChatGPT, offers a better way to sort through the site by combining the activities from all city rec centres and including filters that allow users to organize courses by activity type, day of the week, location, sport or age group.

“This one is filtering just the east end,” Larouche said demonstrating her new website. Once you click on the name of the class or activity you want, the link will redirect users to the city’s real website.

“Whereas on the city website it was very time consuming to do so,” she said.

Larouche says she has reached out to the city on potentially adopting her technology, but says they haven’t shown interest in doing so.

“Unfortunately, they cannot take it because cause they cannot use custom code on their platform currently,” she said.

Larouche says making the website wasn’t very time consuming, as she had already created a similar design for the city’s EarlyOn programs, which offers a large number of child and youth programs in the city.

“There’s 21 organizations and they each had their schedule on their individual pages,” Larouche said.

“So it was the same idea. I gathered everyone’s schedule, put it on one page and published it. Once I could figure out how to scrape the data itself from the city website – took me a weekend to put it together.”

Larouche says she has received “lots of love” from Ottawa parents who have used the site and have found it easier to navigate the cumbersome number of programs available.

“For now, this will have to live in parallel with the city website and hopefully one day, It’ll be easier to update the activities on the city of Ottawa website,” she said.

Larouche has other projects available on her website, including an Ottawa dance class repository, a city swim schedule and an email address extractor. All are posted on her personal website ClaudieLarouche.com.

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