No stadium parking for you

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Megan Gillis, Ottawa Sun

Driving round and round the block hunting for that gap to squeeze into — all under the watchful eye of a legion of bylawofficers, cops and pitchfork-waving Glebites. Maybe not that last part. But the city is indeed warning its enforcers will be out in full force Friday as 24,000 football fans head to the RedBlacks home opener.

And while the Ottawa Sports and Entertainment Group says last week's event for 5,000 season-ticket holders showed pleas to take free transit and park-and-shuttle services hit home, neighbours are bracing for some frustrated motorists about to miss the kick-off.

"It will be a zoo, of course," said Glebe Community Association traffic committee chairman BrianMitchell, who nonetheless notes that game nights were, until eight years ago, a neighbourhood fact of life.

"There will be those that drive in and they think they can just park at Lansdowne. They'll find themselves circling so the next time they'll use the shuttle."

Getting to opening night

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Michael Woods, Ottawa Citizen

When the Ottawa Redblacks play their first-ever home game on Friday, the players won't be the only ones feeling pressure. It is also the first test of the Ottawa Sports and Entertainment Group's strategy to get the 24,000-person sellout crowd people to and from TD Place smoothly.

Overseeing that effort is Hassan Madhoun, who has been OSEG's transportation demand manager since February. Madhoun is responsible for promoting alternative mode of transportation to Lansdowne, and has been working on the plan to get people to the stadium for the past few months.

He spoke with the Citizen this week. The interview has been edited and condensed.

Q. What will be the biggest challenges with trying to get 24,000-plus people to the stadium?

A. Communication is key. The previous transportation plans laid out the services required to accommodate different thresholds of attendance on the site. For a major Redblacks game, the required transportation services are pretty clear. The challenges are getting the word out, letting the public know about the options that are out there and getting people accustomed to the change. It's a new system in Ottawa but it's been done in many, many other venues in the States and elsewhere in North America and Europe, where you've got shuttle service and transit getting lots of folks into a downtown core area with not a lot of parking on site. So the communication aspect is key.

Surviving four years of Lansdowne Park

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Matthew Pearson, Ottawa Citizen

Lansdowne Park's rebuild has demanded more from David Chernushenko than any other politician, perhaps more than the Capital councillor realized. He spoke to The Citizen's Matthew Pearson.

Q The first phase of Lansdowne Park officially opens in a few days. What does the culmination of this long process mean to you as the councillor?

A For me, it's not so much the end as the first end in four years of almost constant focus on Lansdowne. I guess there is part of me that says, "Phew, finally." Love it, hate it, anywhere in between, it's now open, we'll no longer be speculating about what it's going to be and whether it will or won't fail or meet expectations. We'll actually be watching it happen now. Of course, there's still years to go of seeing whether the retail works, whether the traffic drives traditional clientele away from the Glebe or attracts more new clientele, whether football succeeds this time.

Q The Ottawa Sports and Entertainment Group (OSEG) has gone to great lengths to publicize the transportation plan. How confident are you it will work?

A It's emphasizing all the right things — if people really accept that and do it with some enthusiasm, it could work fairly well from the outset. I have to say only "fairly well" because the fact is Lansdowne is not good for public transit. It is not on rapid transit and it's not going to be on rapid transit. So, here we are saying, please, please, please take buses, while at the same time needing to acknowledge that our capacity to run them smoothly is limited by this quite congested street.

Q What do you hear from residents these days? Would you say most of them are either on-side or have just grudgingly accepted what's happening in their community?

A There's a very small minority that will raise on every opportunity they can just how terrible the idea was and go to their deathbed doing that. Others have moved on and realized you can't spend your life being bitter all the time, even if they don't like it. And then there's that unknown 20, 30 per cent that didn't dare raise their head because they knew they were in the minority to say, "Hey, I actually kind of like that idea." It's not like everybody in the Glebe and Old Ottawa South hated it from the outset, but it was certainly a minority view.

Q The Lansdowne Park redevelopment project has taken up a lot of your time since you were elected in 2010 and it's no doubt caused a lot of stress and sleepless nights. What has kept you going?

A I suppose what's kept me going was trying to focus on the things that I might be able to do something about; tweaking things rather than really changing them. I've tried very hard to use Lansdowne redevelopment as the lever or maybe foot-in-the-door to make some changes, particularly in transportation, that have been needed for a long time and were going to benefit both the community and the city transportation network at large.

Q At a recent Lansdowne briefing, Barrhaven Coun. Jan Harder saluted you and said the past four years couldn't have been easy. And yet you've registered to run again. Why do you still want this job?

A I'm sure that everybody who's ever held elected office has asked themselves on a regular basis, "Why do I do this?" For me, it's some combination of feeling like I am accomplishing something — something that's true to my own values and vision for the city, I'm getting enough wins even when I'm stuck with things that weren't my choice, and I am so pleased that enough people stop me in the street or make a point of writing an email to say, "Thanks for what you do. It's not easy. We recognize that."

Q What part of the Lansdowne redevelopment are you most excited about?

A The so-called urban park. The tragedy, of course, is that an existing little, but still valuable, Sylvia Holden Park had to be cut down and built over to make this plan work. I say "had to" in quotes. The end result will be much more green space and park space than was there. I just wish we could have had both. I think it will offer a lot of breathing space, lounging space, informal place for people to go and play and picnic.

Q Where will you be on opening night?

A I'm going to be out of the country. That's not some conscious decision by me to say, "I shall snub the opening game." My mother-in-law is having a 90th birthday and my family made plans to leave town way back in November when we could still find discount tickets. Actually, (I was) intentionally trying to be here for the opening games — they were supposed to be in early July, as it turns out, they're now in the second half of July. But it reaches a point where you spend two years constantly working on a transportation plan to try and make it work, I just have to say it's up to the professionals now.

This interview has been edited and condensed.

City warns against selling driveway parking for RedBlacks games

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Team encouraging fans to take public transit to games and avoid driving

CBC News

Glebe residents and Ottawa's bylaw department are warning homeowners living near Lansdowne Park not to rent out their driveways during Ottawa RedBlacks games.

The team makes their home debut at TD Place at Lansdowne Park on Friday in a 7 p.m. game against the Toronto Argonauts.

With an eye to easing expected traffic congestion, the city and team owner Ottawa Sports and Entertainment Group have introduced a number of measures to discourage driving to the games.

​OSEG is encouraging fans to make use of free public transit and park-and-ride shuttle services and is also offering secure on-site parking for bicycles. But a recent survey suggested only four in 10 fans planned to take advantage of the free services.

Driving still preferable says fan

Football fan Kyle Stevenson is not one of them. He said getting his group of 16 from Renfrew, Ont., in a few vehicles is more convenient.

"It just really doesn't suit us perfectly, it's tough to run the shuttles and get everyone together," he said.

But street parking is expected to be difficult.

Residents concerned about fans taking up parking spots successfully petitioned the city to change free parking limits on some nearby roads from three hours to one hour.

So Stevenson is one of a number of Canadian Football League fans putting out online want ads for parking spots to rent. At least one ad is offering a spot for sale.

Selling spot punishable by fines of up to $5,000

Stevenson said he's willing to pay up to $250 for parking at the nine Redblacks home games this year.

What Stevenson's doing is legal, but the city's bylaw department says selling a parking spot is against zoning bylaws and punishable with a fine of up to $5,000.

Brian Mitchell, the chair of the traffic committee of the Glebe Community Association, said fans should avoid driving to the games. He said those looking for driveways or street parking on game day will likely be out of luck.

"No matter what you think there will not be the parking you need to meet your needs, there is not a big parking lot at Lansdowne anymore," said Mitchell.

"Even if there are a handful of spots, there will be a hundreds of people circling the neighbourhood and eventually realizing they need to go to a shuttle lot or else they will miss the kickoff," he said.