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."
Some residentsmay cash in like in days past — one touting four spots at $25 a pop, risking a fine — but a study found nearby street parking already 85% full. Many of the 2,500 street spots factored into the game day equation are a long hike to the edges of Old Ottawa South or Ottawa East.
Phil Landry, the city'smanager of traffic services, will be watching from a bank of traffic cameras while up to 15 employees monitor car, bus and bike flow, 20 police officers eye key intersections and nine bylaw officers enforce rules. They include new one-hour parking zones and outright parking bans on stretches of Bank St., Fifth Ave. and O'Connor St. to keep buses moving and fire routes clear.
Violators will return to a ticket, Landry warned.
Counts from last Wednesday were on target with a fifth of fans taking transit and a third the park-and-shuttle service, while more than 200 used a secure bike check, OSEG transportation demand manager Hassan Madhoun said.
That's good news, suggesting warnings not to drive to TD Place or attempt to park nearby are getting traction but it's hard to predict how an event five times bigger will play out until Friday.
Madhoun is still concerned about fans who will try to drive and park nearby like they always did for Rough Riders and Renegades games despite the messages to park at one of four lots and take a shuttle, board a bus or ride a bike.
"They might have to learn the hard way," he said.