City worried about Lansdowne car 'culture'

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Parking is at a premium for the shops in Lansdowne Park. (Tony Caldwell/Ottawa Sun)

Jon Willing, Ottawa Sun

Lansdowne Park is becoming exactly what the local councillor wanted to avoid when the city was designing the urban park and shopping district.

"I think it's terrible," Capital Coun. David Chernushenko told the Sun Monday. "There's far more vehicle traffic on the whole site than what was envisioned."

Chernushenko said the city will need to do something before a car "culture" becomes prominent on the site.

The most glaring evidence is the pop-up parking lot that has occasionally taken over Aberdeen Square, an area between Aberdeen Pavilion and the Cineplex.

The city put up "no parking" signs but motorists still pull in. Chernushenko said, based on anecdotal evidence from security, motorists say they are just quickly visiting a store. More barriers or traffic control staff might be necessary, he said.

Lansdowne has a paid underground parking lot and some paid surface parking. The city and the Ottawa Sports and Entertainment Group anticipated that would be enough parking when combined with street parking in the Glebe.

Lansdowne was designed to be friendlier to other modes of transportation — cycling and walking — and to naturally discourage car traffic.

Hiding A Scorched Building When FIFA Comes To Town

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A fire on April 10 destroyed businesses on Bank St. near Fifth Ave. Photo by the Sun’s Tony Caldwell.

Jon Willing, Ottawa Sun

Fires, unfortunately, happen, so I don’t think FIFA is going to get too riled over the scorched building at Bank St. and Fifth Ave.

But it could be an annoyance, with less than a month until Women’s World Cup soccer games are played at Lansdowne Park.

One of the points in the host city agreement between FIFA, the City of Ottawa and the Canadian Soccer Association speaks to beautification.

The agreement says:

The Host City shall ensure it makes best efforts to render the Host City as attractive as possible to the members of the public and visiting football fans, by, for example, and without limitation, obstructing the view to major construction sites which are visible to the public and are close to the Host City’s major transport hubs, entertainment areas and the Stadium(s) in the Host City.

Capital Coun. David Chernushenko said the fire site has come up in discussions in the frame of the FIFA tournament. There’s nothing much the city can do at this point about the damaged building, so at the very least there might be some soccer-themed artwork on the hoarding around the building, Chernushenko said. Nothing has been determined yet.

“We have to accept it’s still going to be a burned-out site,” Chernushenko said.

Aberdeen Square isn't a pop-up parking lot, Watson says

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Jon Willing, Ottawa Sun

Lansdowne Park has been taking one step forward, but lately, falling two steps behind.

When vehicles streamed onto the site for the Def Leppard concert Monday night some people simply parked in a courtyard between the Aberdeen Pavilion and the Cineplex.

It wasn't just concertgoers. As people walked out of the theatre with their popcorn leftovers, they got into their parked cars at Aberdeen Square.

The same kind of pop-up parking was happening on Saturday as motorists ditched their cars in the big courtyard.

While tradespeople have been using the area to access construction sites, it's clear some regular visitors have grown accustomed to the free parking.

One of the bonuses of redeveloping Lansdowne was removing surface parking, although there are some paid parking spaces available on the interior streets. The majority of the parking is now underground.

"It is not a surface parking lot and I'll make sure that staff let people know and that people are ticketed because that area is the responsibility of the city, it's part of the public realm," Mayor Jim Watson said Tuesday.

Watson said there will still be tradespeople parked in the area as work winds down. There are residential and office buildings under construction and more retail stores are moving in.

There are signs explaining Aberdeen Square is for "authorized" parking only, but that might not be good enough. It could require city staff to protect the courtyard.

Lansdowne confusion could spur parking ban

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Joanne Chianello, Ottawa Citizen

On-street parking at Lansdowne Park continues to be so confusing that Mayor Jim Watson says the city may look at banning street parking on the site if the issue isn’t cleared up by next year.

In the meantime, the city must come up with a plan to stop illegal parking in front of the Cineplex, the mayor told reporters Tuesday.

Watson is not in favour of getting rid of the approximately 50 "legitimate" onstreet parking spots at the redeveloped retail and entertainment complex on Bank Street, which has been opening in stages since 2014. He said the on-street spots can be helpful to people with mobility issues.

“They just want to pop in to the bank for five minutes, and that option should be available,” said the mayor, adding there should probably be “a few more spots” for people with disabilities.

But Watson did concede that there continues to be confusion between cars, pedestrians and cyclists at Lansdowne, with each type of traveller not sure where he or she should go, or who has the right of way. And there have been ongoing issues with illegal parking in front of the recently opened Cineplex theatre complex.

Watson hopes that when the construction on the Lansdowne site is finally complete, it will be easier for everyone to get around. However, when asked if the city should consider banning surface parking, Watson didn’t rule it out. “If we still have the same problems in a year from now, we’re going to have to look at what we can do to make everyone safe,” he said. “Right now, it’s still in the midst of being a construction site.

“You’ve got all the office construction on the front, you’ve got fit-ups of some of the stores and restaurants on either side of the Cineplex.”

The area in front of the Cineplex is public space and controlled by the city. During Monday’s Def Leppard concert at the TD Place arena, dozens of people were parked in front of the theatre. While tradespeople are allowed to park there during construction — hence the “Authorized Parking Only” signs that are erected in the area — that space “is not a parking lot,” Watson said.

“That area around the Cineplex is too confusing right now and we have to do something about it,” he said.

Measures could include better signage, or city staff directing traffic during major events like concerts. And there’s always the option of levying fines as a deterrent.

“Parking tickets would do the trick, certainly in the short run,” Watson said.

To Lansdowne with trepidation

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Phil Jenkins, Ottawa Citizen

It was as much by accident as design that I found myself wandering Lansdowne Park on a sunny, midweek midday. In search of a buzz tea from Ecuador, I entered the mall section, noting the numbing uniformity of design in the buildings and their frontage, and paused. What had been to my left before? The Coliseum building and a small park. The Coliseum, built 1903, demolished 109 years later. The park, Sylvia Holden (a community activist, born 1930) Commemorative, opened 1994 by a Councillor Watson, bulldozed 18 years later.

Halfway up the escalator to the grocery store I read the business’s mission statement on the wall ahead of me, gagged, came down again and walked out into daylight and made for the Cattle Castle, which was looking majestic and friendly. The stores in the retail corridor appeared fairly upmarket to my bank account, and a brave restaurant had set up a patio where several people were podded into music to drown the din of construction nearby. Between the buildings short, wide alleyways led to Holmwood Avenue. Scurrying out to the street I looked left and right. Diversely styled and aged homes on the north side; a still under-construction phalanx of cloned town houses on the north. The clone homes have the better view; the older homes all have the same view.

At the end of the corridor, which I believe will eventually be tree-lined, the side of the relocated Horticulture building was all glass and empty inside awaiting tenants. The facade has been beautifully restored to the way it looked when it was built to Francis Sullivan’s design in 1914, in the Prairie style of Frank Lloyd Wright. I realize now as I write this that there are Prairie elements in the retail buildings on the corridors. A plaque outside the Castle reminded me that the Princess Patricia’s regiment started here in 1914. Fitting now that it will be a peaceful farmer’s market.

Glebe councillor says parking cars on TD Place field a bad idea

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Matthew Pearson, Ottawa Citizen

Orléans Coun. Bob Monette’s suggestion that cars should be allowed to park on the field of TD Place in the winter has some people crying foul.

Monette raised the idea Monday during a discussion about transportation in and around the redeveloped Lansdowne Park. He was concerned about a perceived lack of parking on the site during some Ottawa 67’s games this season, and frustrations over game day traffic jams on Bank Street.

Monette had said cars could possibly be rerouted onto Queen Elizabeth Driveway and use that entrance to access the park.

“It would solve your 67’s issue,” he told Bernie Ashe, the executive director of the Ottawa Sports and Entertainment Group.

Ashe said it’s “an initiative we would support completely.”

But Capital Coun. David Chernushenko says it’s a terrible idea.

“We wanted this to be a site where cars are tolerated, but not invited,” Chernushenko said Tuesday. “This is meant to be a pedestrian precinct on the surface.”

The idea “came completely out of the blue,” he said, adding such a measure would contradict the city’s and OSEG’s combined efforts to encourage park goers to take transit as much as possible, instead of driving.

“It undermines our whole successful message that there’s a better way than driving,” Chernushenko said.

Stadium parking idea comes "out of left field": Critic

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Jon Willing, Ottawa Sun

Allowing parking on the field of TD Place would be terrible optics for a city trying to get more Lansdowne Park visitors onto buses, the local councillor says.

Capital Coun. David Chernushenko is in one of the best positions to know the parking and traffic plan at Lansdowne, but a suggestion this week to let cars park on the stadium field when it's not in use came as a surprise.

"That one came out of left field," Chernushenko said Tuesday. "It's the first I've heard of it. At first blush I don't like the idea. Frankly, if that field is available I'd much rather see a dome over it and see it being used for recreation."

During a transportation committee meeting Monday, Orléans Coun. Bob Monette suggested transit use to Lansdowne in the winter might not be as high simply because people don't like walking. Allowing parking in the stadium could reduce the traffic congestion on Bank St., Monette said.

Monette suggested allowing cars to park on the field could increase attendance at Ottawa 67s hockey games.

RedBlacks fans embrace buses but parking, traffic complaints persist

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By Matthew Pearson, Ottawa Citizen

The Ottawa Sports and Entertainment Group has met the ambitious targets it set to encourage people to take transit or shuttle buses to Ottawa RedBlacks games during the football team’s inaugural season at the redeveloped Lansdowne Park.

OSEG devised a transportation scheme that envisioned 36 per cent of ticket holders would arrive by shuttle after parking at nearby lots, while another 20 per cent would take OC Transpo buses. Cycling and walking were also strongly encouraged over driving in an effort to prevent clogged streets in the Glebe.

The plan, revisited Monday at the city’s transportation committee, appears to have worked, with an average of 55 per cent of ticket holders arriving by shuttle or conventional transit buses.

“People have bought in, people have embraced this,” OSEG CEO Bernie Ashe told the committee.

In fact, significantly more people chose conventional transit — sometimes as high as 41 per cent — while fewer than expected opted for the shuttles, which significantly reduced the number of trips from a high of 186 on opening day to 81 on the night of the RedBlacks’ final home game.

Given this development, OSEG’s transportation manager Hasan Madhoun recommended to the committee on Monday that the total number of off-site parking spaces on game nights be reduced from 4,200 to 2,000, which is still higher than the average number of spaces used last year.

OSEG has not yet said which off-site lots it will use this season.

OSEG to seek tourism designation for Lansdowne

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By Jon Willing, Ottawa Sun

The Ottawa Sports and Entertainment Group will submit an application to declare Lansdowne Park a tourism site, the CEO says.

"We'll be working on that as soon as possible," Bernie Ashe said Monday.

Ashe said the company is working with the Glebe BIA and hopes to have the paperwork filed at City Hall within 60 days. From there, it will be up to council to make a decision.

Declaring Lansdowne a tourist site would allow stores to be open on statutory holidays, adding to existing sites in Ottawa that include the Byward Market and Rideau St.

Whole Foods at Lansdowne received a visit from police on Good Friday when the store was open against the law. The grocer claims it thought Lansdowne already had tourism designation.

OSEG, which is the city's partner in the Lansdowne redevelopment, is the landlord for the retail stores.

Since council's meeting schedule thins out over the summer, Ashe doesn't expect a quick turnaround on a decision.

Ashe on Monday was at City Hall fielding questions from council's transportation committee about the first year of traffic and parking for major events at Lansdowne.

The committee, which includes Lansdowne-area Coun. David Chernushenko, agreed the traffic and parking problem wasn't as bad as some thought it would be.

"It gives me great pleasure to say nobody is saying, 'I told you so'," Chernushenko said.

The local community associations want the city to protect on-street parking for residents and get more people to take OC Transpo.

The Glebe BIA wants the city to consider a free fare zone on Bank St. to encourage transit use. Transpo says it's feasible but the lost revenue would need to be recouped somehow.

Orléans Coun. Bob Monette brought up concerns about transportation to the site in the winter and traffic gridlock on Bank St.

Ashe said OSEG would be open to allowing cars to park on TD Place field for events in the winter -- such as Ottawa 67s games -- since it's not being used.

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Twitter: @JonathanWilling