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.

Despite the apparent success of the game-night strategy, complaints persist about day-to-day traffic and parking issues in and around Lansdowne, particularly on days when the Ottawa 67’s have a home game.

Congestion on Bank Street and a lack of on-street parking are key concerns, Glebe Community Association president Brian Mitchell told the committee.

He urged the city to encourage drivers to use the Queen Elizabeth Driveway entrance instead of Bank and also to promote transit as the best way to access Lansdowne for day-to-day activities, not just big events.

Mitchell also said OC Transpo should consider a trial no-fare zone on part of Bank Street, something an official said could cost “multiple hundreds of thousands” of dollars, depending on how extensive the program would be.

Orléans Coun. Bob Monette suggested OSEG consider letting people park on the field of TD Place in the winter months to expand surface parking for Ottawa 67’s games.

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

But Capital Coun. David Chernushenko told the committee he believes the presence of cars on the site continues to be an issue. “I believe we must give pedestrians the priority,” he said.

There were also renewed calls from several community associations for a new foot bridge over the Rideau Canal linking Fifth Avenue and Clegg Street in Old Ottawa East. The project is outlined in the city’s long-term transportation master plan, but there has been some interest at city hall to see the project expedited.

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If you don’t find the information you need on these pages, please visit ottawa.ca/newlansdowne, or to contact the City directly by email at newlansdowne@ottawa.caor by calling 3-1-1 (press 1 for English, then 5 for the Lansdowne line). If necessary, you may also contact the project manager, Marco Manconi, at 613-580-2424 ext. 43229, or by email.