Alta Vista sits on a rise above the Rideau River valley (explaining its name), and was built with lots of parks. The community's boundaries can be broadly described as: Smyth Road in the north, St. Laurent Boulevard in the east, Walkley Road and Heron Road in the south, and Bank Street and Riverside Drive in the west. It includes these neighbourhoods: Applewood Acres, Billings Bridge, Canterbury, Elmvale Acres, Faircrest, Guildwood Estates, Playfair Park, Rideau Park, Urbandale, and Urbandale Acres.
Billings Bridge is one of Ottawa's oldest communities, and is named after Bradish Billings, who settled and farmed farm there in 1812. The original Billings Bridge was built in 1830, and the current bridge was built in 1916 to extend Bank Street south. The Village of Billings Bridge became part of the city of Ottawa in 1950.
Alta Vista is home to the General Campus of the Ottawa Hospital, the Children's Hospital of Eastern Ontario and the Riverside Campus of the Ottawa Hospital (nearby, at Smyth and Riverside Drive).
The OC Transpo Transitway has stations at Pleasant Park and Riverside (with Billings Bridge and Smyth stations also nearby).
Heron Gate is a residential community in the triangle between Heron Road on the north and Walkley Road to the south. This is a high density, working class neighbourhood with several large apartment buildings and townhome complexes built around Heatherington Park and Fairlea Park.
Guildwood Estates is in the eastern part of Alta Vista, east of a ribbon of parks (Grasshopper Hill Park, Lynda Lane Park, and Featherstone Park) that diagonally cross the community. This area has great access to parks and recreational trails and has several good schools.
Ellwood is a neighbourhood south of Walkley, and east of Bank Street and the O-Train corridor, and with the Walkley Railway Yards to the south.
Applewood Acres is in the south west corner of Alta Vista. It is located just east of the Ottawa River Valley, and is a safe, quiet residential area.
As an element of the Alta Vista community, Applewood Acres has access to a wealth of amenities, including several churches, recreation facilities, and multiple elementary and high schools. These include: Alta Vista Public School, Arch Street Public School, Featherston Drive Public School, Hawthorne Public School, Pleasant Park Public School, and Vincent Massey Public School as elementary schools. Canterbury High School and Hillcrest High School are the areas public secondary schools, while three catholic schools round out the list. They are McMaster Catholic, St. Patrick's Intermediate, and St. Patrick's High School.
Applewood Acres has a vibrant community organization, supporting schools, arts, recreation, and various businesses. These include smaller strip malls and independent shops, as well as Billings Bridge Plaza Shopping Centre and Elmvale Shopping Centre, which are nearby.
Alta Vista-Billings Bridge area has a population of about 24,000, Guildwood Estates has a population of about 6,000 residents, and the area south of Heron Rd has a population of 14,000 residents.
Billings Bridge-Alta Vista is a relatively old neighbourhood; with 3% of home pre-dating 1946, and 47% built 1946 - 1960, 30% built between 1961 and 1980, and 18% of homes were built since 1981. The Billings Bridge-Alta Vista area (norht of Heron Rd) had 5,100 dwellings: 55% were single family, 7% are semi-detached, 2% are row houses, 21% were apartments in bulidings greater than 5 stories, 10% are low-rise apartments, and 4% were duplexes. The majority of residents (64%) owned their homes and 36% rented.
Ledbury/Heron Gate/Ridgemont/Elmwood neighbourhood south of Heron Road is a relatively new neighbourhood, with only 13% of homes pre-dating 1960 (and some homes in Ellwood are pre-date WWII), and the majority of homes (53%) were built between 1961 and 1980, and only 13% were built before 1960. Additionally, 23% of homes were built between 1981 and 1990 and 12% were built between 1991 and 2006.
This area has about 5,300 dwellings: 12% were single family, 2% are semi-detached, 33% are row houses, 45% were high-rise apartments and 8% were low-rise apartments. The great majority (73%) of residents rented, and 27% of residents owned their homes.
The Guildwood Estates-Playfair Park-Lynda Park neighbourhood, surrounded by a band of parkland, is a relatively new neighbourhood. Though 1% of homes pre-date 1946, an d8% were built from 1946-1960, the majority of homes (80%) were built between 1961 and ,and 11% were built after 1981. of the roughly 2,500 dwellings, 57% of these are single family, 4% are semi-detached, 5.9% are row houses, 32% are high rise apartments, and less than 1% were low-rise apartments. In this neighbourhood 74% of homes are owned, and 26% of residents rent their homes
The area is served by 6 public elementary schools, 3 Catholic elementary & middle schools, 3 public high schools, and 1 Catholic high school. The area is very close to the Carleton University campus.
The area is served by Billings Bridge Plaza Shopping Centre, Elmvale Shopping Centre, the Herongate Mall, and several smaller strip malls and independent shops.
The community is accessible to recreational pathways along the Rideau River, and is close to Mooney's Bay and the Rideau Canal.