A review of the Lansdowne Transportation Advisory Committee’s work and thoughts on next steps by LTAC chair Coun. David Chernushenko
In June 2012, Council approved a Transportation Impact Assessment and Transportation Demand Management (TDM) plan that acknowledged the transportation challenges posed by the intensive redevelopment of Lansdowne Park – within communities that are themselves intensifying, in a city with more vehicle traffic than ever. The TDM Plan concluded that existing infrastructure would be sufficient to handle the new demands, if combined with aggressive Transportation Demand Management measures. It laid out in broad strokes the elements of such a plan, while calling for more detail to be added, and for a comprehensive Transportation Monitoring Plan to be prepared.
Although the Lansdowne TDM plan proposed a radical shift towards use of transit and active modes of travel and away from facilitating private car use, many local residents, associations and the Glebe BIA were not convinced that transportation and parking challenges were being treated with sufficient seriousness. They worried that they would bear the brunt of problems which they felt were certain to arise, due to insufficient road capacity, transit options, parking availability and safe cycling routes. They feared that too great an emphasis was being placed on monitoring, and not enough on pre-emptive measures.
The Lansdowne Transportation Advisory Committee
Against this background, I convened the ad-hoc Lansdowne Transportation Advisory Committee to examine in detail all aspects of these transportation challenges. The LTAC met over an 18-month period to discuss concerns, review possible solutions, receive recommendations from several community associations and give feedback on the proposed Transportation Monitoring Plan.
Following our first meeting as an LTAC, I stated that the group would formally report to Council through the Transportation Committee. The Transportation Committee chair had expressed her support for this and, in addition, Transit Commission Chair Diane Deans had invited the LTAC to present our report to the Transit Commission. I initially expected that this would take the form of a consensus report written by me as chair and endorsed by all participants. As the group advanced through its exploration of issues and proposed measures, though, several parallel processes were set in motion. The Glebe Community Association (GCA) undertook an extensive survey of its membership, leading to a set of recommendations. City staff were actively involved in the process and offered feedback along the way, in addition to considering the final recommendations. The Old Ottawa South Community Association (OSCAR) subsequently carried out a smaller but similar process, also with staff involvement.
Several months into the series of LTAC meetings, sensing the need to begin analysis of ideas with long timelines, I drafted a set of mostly high-level recommendations, based upon the most commonly voiced concerns and my own knowledge of the local conditions and challenges. A preliminary version of these was submitted to the City manager and the mayor in October 2012. I continued to refine them and receive responses from senior staff as the LTAC process advanced. Partway through the process, I shared with the full LTAC an updated version of my recommendations and the responses I had been receiving, noting that I would continue to press for implementation of these recommendations. Based on strong support from the citizen representatives of the LTAC, and some helpful input, I continued to advance these ideas in ongoing discussions with staff, the Transportation Committee chair and the mayor's office.
When I first convened the LTAC, I made a commitment to hold a public meeting at some point late in the LTAC process where the work of the group would be shared and discussed. That meeting was held on December 9, 2013. Items presented and discussed included the Transportation Monitoring Plan, the recommendations of the GCA and OSCA, as well as my list with a status report. At that meeting, the audience of approximately 200 people expressed considerable skepticism that the approved measures — beyond the initial TDM report — would be sufficient to produce tolerable conditions and an effective and efficient flow of traffic through the most affected communities. In short, the community association participants in the LTAC and many local residents remained, and remain today, unconvinced that enough has been done.
I understand their concerns, fears and frustration. Traffic generated by the Lansdowne redevelopment — short of it failing to attract visitors from the outset — will add substantial pressures through volume and parking demands on a daily basis. The adjacent communities have experienced and survived event-related traffic conditions before, and surely they will again. But with so many new people moving to and from the site, and living on the site, on a daily basis now, it is hard to picture the planned measures being sufficient. Indeed, the comments you have heard from LTAC participants and people in the most affected communities illustrate just how unconvinced they remain.
I share some of this skepticism. But, like many participants and observers, I also believe that we can still make a reasonable success out of the transportation plans for Lansdowne, with the will and targeted investments in some specific measures. This page lists the most recent version of my recommendations and their status as of today.
Below, however, is a very short list of the measures that I believe will be most effective in achieving the most critical result: getting most visitors out of their cars and onto a bus/train, bicycle or travelling on foot. The car will still be an option for some trips, but only a massive shift away from the car as a preferred mode of door-to-door travel to Lansdowne will accomplish the goal that I think everyone shares: an enjoyable and efficient trip visit that does not harm the quality of life of adjacent residents.
Steps to success
My recommendations are based on two principles:
1. It's not just about major events. We know that special measures can be implemented for brief periods during special events. People adjust. But a surge in daily volume, and its expected road congestion, driver behavior, and parking limitations are of even greater concern. We must achieve a livable new normal.
2. There will be no sweeping solutions, no subway or LRT or rapid bus line to Lansdowne. Rather, several dozen modifications can collectively amount to a workable strategy for moving and parking Lansdowne visitors, Bank St. clients and local residents in the Glebe and Old Ottawa South. The essential elements will be:
- Taking the pressure off Bank St.
- Making bus travel more attractive than car travel
- Making walking and cycling more attractive
- Opening up new approach routes to Lansdowne
- Creating dedicated parking for regular Bank St. business
List of items to pursue further, drawn from the GCA, OSCA & OOECA Priority Recommendations
A) Measures to which the City has responded positively, and on which some work is underway:
- Change selected pedestrian signals on Bank St. in the Glebe and Old Ottawa South so they do not require a button push to activate.
- Implement more restrictive parking policies/limits on some residential streets closest to Lansdowne, following a public petition process.
- Advance the construction of the O'Connor bike route (downtown and Glebe) and Glebe Neighbourhood Bikeways so that they can be used to access Lansdowne, as well as elements that will connect cycling routes in Old Ottawa South to Lansdowne.
- Build the pedestrian/canal bridge at Fifth and Clegg Aves. as quickly as possible.
- Work with the NCC to quickly implement safe crossings on the Queen Elizabeth Dr. at Fifth Ave. and other priority crossings identified on Colonel By Dr. in Old Ottawa East and Old Ottawa South (e.g. at Clegg Ave. and at Bank Street Bridge).
- Reconfigure the Isabella St./Elgin St./Queen Elizabeth Dr. intersection — including the closure of Elgin from Isabella St. to Pretoria Ave. — so it is more efficient for cars and safer for pedestrians, and implement as soon as possible.
B) Measures to which the City has not yet agreed:
- Implement new pedestrian safety measures at the high-volume intersections of Bank and Sunnyside and Bank and Aylmer (e.g. red light cameras).
- Improve bike safety on the Bank Street Bridge through piloting space reallocation to create true bike lanes.
- Provide a no-fare zone on OC Transpo on Bank St. from Wellington St. to Riverdale Ave. during peak retail times at Lansdowne (Thursday/Friday evenings and all day Saturday/Sunday)
- Pilot the service to assess usage and cost (e.g. Saturdays during the first four months of retail operations at Lansdowne next year).
Read the full LTAC Consolidated Recommendations & Status Report.
Councillor for Capital Ward