Homeowners and businesses in the neighbourhood keep fingers crossed
Michael Woods, Ottawa Citizen
For merchants, the cautious optimism of the past few months has made way for excitement about the crowd of 24,000 that will descend upon TD Place at Lansdowne Friday night, said Glebe BIA executive director Andrew Peck.
"For businesses, the big thing is how is that traffic going to translate into customers," he said. "What they really want to make sure of is that nothing disrupts the things that are working right now for their current customers."
For businesses along Bank Street, these first Redblacks home games are key. With the 360,000 square feet of retail space at Lansdowne not opening until November, Peck said many merchants are optimistic they can become part of fans' game-day routines early.
"There's going to be a captive audience coming to the games that need other options," Peck said. "I think it's going to be exciting to watch people rediscover the Glebe and be tourists in their own city."
The BIA will line the neighbourhood, starting at 3:30 p.m., with musicians, cheerleaders and "super fans" to hand out merchandise, paint faces and create an exciting atmosphere for the game. Peck said the goal is for fans to arrive early and stay late.
Among residents, there remains varying feelings. Glebe Community Association president Christine McAllister said there's "excitement mixed with some trepidation" in the neighbourhood.
"We're all just keeping a pretty close eye on how things unfold," she said.
Some residents remain concerned about the inevitable influx of vehicle traffic to the neighbourhood. Marion Moritz, who has lived in the Glebe for 35 years, said she thinks it will be a "disaster."
While Moritz said she commends the Ottawa Sports and Entertainment Group's efforts to encourage people to get to Lansdowne without driving, there are still thousands of people expected to arrive by means other than public transit or park-and-ride shuttles.
"The general tone here in the Glebe is batten down the hatches, we'll endure, and hopefully things will work out," she said. "I'm an avid football fan. Avid. I went to all the Rough Riders games back in the day. But I will not step a foot over the threshold of this Lansdowne, I'm so furious."
According to the community association's website, parking restrictions will be in effect from 3:30 to 11:30 p.m. on several streets, including Fifth Avenue, Bank Street, Bronson Avenue, Lakeside Avenue, Metcalfe Street and parts of O'Connor Street, Chamberlain Avenue and Strathcona.
"They're going above and beyond what was anticipated in terms of parking and stopping restrictions," said Brian Mitchell, the community association's traffic committee chair. "We hope it's just for the first game."
Mitchell said there were originally supposed to be fewer parking restrictions, but the community association received official notice of the additional restrictions on Monday.
"It's certainly not anticipated that we would lose so much of our on-street parking, and a lot of our residents count on that for their car because they don't have a driveway."
While Friday night will be a busy one in the Glebe, McAllister said the eventual day-to-day traffic impact of the entire Lansdowne development is a bigger concern for residents.
"You can mentally adjust to a big game. You know that there are 24,000 people coming to your neighbourhood. You might choose to stay out late for dinner, or not invite friends on game night," she said. "But the day-to-day impacts, our anticipation is that they'll be felt on a more constant basis, and those are the ones there's more concern for in the neighbourhood."