Matthew Pearson, Ottawa Citizen
Orléans Coun. Bob Monette’s suggestion that cars should be allowed to park on the field of TD Place in the winter has some people crying foul.
Monette raised the idea Monday during a discussion about transportation in and around the redeveloped Lansdowne Park. He was concerned about a perceived lack of parking on the site during some Ottawa 67’s games this season, and frustrations over game day traffic jams on Bank Street.
Monette had said cars could possibly be rerouted onto Queen Elizabeth Driveway and use that entrance to access the park.
“It would solve your 67’s issue,” he told Bernie Ashe, the executive director of the Ottawa Sports and Entertainment Group.
Ashe said it’s “an initiative we would support completely.”
But Capital Coun. David Chernushenko says it’s a terrible idea.
“We wanted this to be a site where cars are tolerated, but not invited,” Chernushenko said Tuesday. “This is meant to be a pedestrian precinct on the surface.”
The idea “came completely out of the blue,” he said, adding such a measure would contradict the city’s and OSEG’s combined efforts to encourage park goers to take transit as much as possible, instead of driving.
“It undermines our whole successful message that there’s a better way than driving,” Chernushenko said.
OSEG officials said Monday that those marketing efforts appeared to pay off during the Ottawa RedBlacks’ inaugural season, during which as many as 58 per cent of fans arrived by shuttle or OC Transpo bus.
But concerns around traffic and parking during day-to-day operations at Lansdowne Park persist, with some suggesting the city must do a better job of encouraging people to take transit whenever they visit.
Chernushenko also said there are much better uses for the playing field during the winter months.
This year, it was buried beneath a thick blanket of snow and home to hundreds of snowmen, built in an effort to set a new Guinness World Record for most snowmen built in an hour.
“If that field is available, let’s talk about putting a dome over it,” Chernushenko said. “That’s what I would like it used for.”
Salt and oil dripping off cars would also be a concern, he said, despite OSEG’s suggestion it would cover the field somehow before ever allowing cars to park on it.
George Dark, the urban designer and landscape architect who chaired the city’s strategic design review and advisory panel for Lansdowne, also frowned at the thought of cars parking on the 40-yard-line.
“To me, the more interesting problem is you’ve learned that you’re not optimizing your transit use to the site in the winter, so you want to look at why that’s happening and try to solve that before you look at parking cars on the field,” he said.
With files from David Reevely