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.
Bernie Ashe, CEO of the Ottawa Sports and Entertainment Group, said it's feasible to cover the field with a material that would allow OSEG to clear snow and park cars. OSEG would welcome the chance to discuss the option with the Lansdowne transportation group, Ashe said.
Chernushenko said the design review committee that signed off on the Lansdowne redevelopment didn't contemplate parking on the stadium field.
"We certainly at no point envisaged driving onto the field," Chernushenko said. "It's not designed for driving onto the field. I don't like the idea and will certainly resist it should it have any further legs."
Chernushenko believes there are no problems with parking and transportation in the winter. He said Lansdowne was a bit overwhelmed when retail, sports, the farmers' market and Winterlude were all happening at the same time, but it's no reason to start adding parking to the site.
One benefit of the new Lansdowne is that a family can easily stroll through the largely car-free site, Chernushenko said. Opening Lansdowne to more cars would undermine the city's message to take alternate transportation, he said.
"I just don't like the optics of a sports field with cars on it," Chernushenko said. "I don't think there's any reason why we need to make special conditions for winter and I certainly don't believe it's a step forward, I think it's a step backwards, to start letting cars park on playing fields,
"We have a shortage of playing fields. I'd like to see them used for play."