Residents hear Lansdowne traffic plans

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EDDIE RWEMA, Ottawa This Week

Residents hear Lansdowne traffic plans. Several residents from the Glebe and Old Ottawa South gathered at the Glebe Community Centre on Dec. 1 to hear city's plans to monitor problems with traffic and parking prior to Lansdowne Park redevelopment planned to commence next year. Eddie Rwema

Glebe and Old Ottawa South residents fear the redevelopment of Lansdowne Park will create more traffic, noise and air pollution and substantial lose of residential parking spots during major events.

Their concerns were acknowledged by John Smit, a manager of development review for the city, who said the redevelopment of Lansdowne Park will generate additional traffic.

"Nobody is denying it whatsoever," Smit told those gathered at a public meeting about Lansdowne transportation monitoring held at the Glebe Community Centre on Dec .1.

The redevelopment will include retail stores, movie theatres and the renovation of Frank Clair Stadium, all of which are expected to increase the amount of traffic passing through the Glebe and Old Ottawa South.

"We recognize that there is going to be more traffic that is going to be happening in the area and we recognize there is going to be more demands with respect to parking in the residential streets," said Smit, adding the purpose of the meeting was to try to understand some of the key issues they should be considering in order to develop a comprehensive monitoring program.

This anticipated traffic increase will be influenced by a significant decrease in parking space at Lansdowne Park.

According to information provided by the city, the current plan for the redevelopment of Lansdowne Park would reduce the number of parking spaces there to 1,350 from 2,200.

For major events, the city is proposing to add more buses to and from the site and will encourage people to use transit services, as well as introducing satellite parking and shuttle bus services for major events.

At some point the city may be required to reserve lanes on Bank Street exclusively for buses, said Capital Coun. David Chernushenko.

"Should we ever find ourselves in a scenario where we want both of those lanes to be open it would have to be on a short term basis to bring shuttles in to a special event," said Chernushenko, referring to the lanes on Bank Street usually used for on-street parking.

He insisted that should always be a last resort to avoid turning the street into a high speed corridor.

"We don't want Bank Street ever to become Bronson Avenue," said Chernushenko.

"I will absolutely fight to ensure it never happens."

He said he needs Bank Street to be as narrow as possible in order to slow traffic.

"Bank Street must never become a street that is fulltime open to four lanes of traffic."

The city has been working with the two community associations that will be most affected by the redevelopment to find traffic mitigation measures. The redevelopment is expected to begin next year.

Brendan McCoy, who sits on the Old Ottawa South Community Association board of directors, thinks working with the city to find solutions to traffic problems is a step in a right direction.

"Here we have a residential neighbourhood with a 19th-century street network that is not very well served by public transit and you are plunking a mall, an arena, sportsplex right in the middle of that neighbourhood," he said.

He said major events at Lansdowne Park will fill up their streets with people looking for free parking near Lansdowne, creating problems for merchants and residents.

"We are afraid that a lot of people are going to park on our streets either because there isn't enough parking in the parking garage or because the garage is expensive and those spots are not going to be available for local merchants who depend on them," said McCoy.

Meanwhile Old Ottawa East residents feel they too will be affected by parking pressures and are concerned about the fact the city has never consulted them.

"We too have concerns about parking that would be generated from Lansdowne events in our neighbourhood and we are concerned that we haven't been consulted on that," said Ron Rose, chairman of the association's standing committee on traffic and transportation.

He said that studies that have done indicate that 850 parking spots in their neighbourhood would be available for parking for large event.