Jon Willing, Ottawa Sun
Lansdowne Park has been taking one step forward, but lately, falling two steps behind.
When vehicles streamed onto the site for the Def Leppard concert Monday night some people simply parked in a courtyard between the Aberdeen Pavilion and the Cineplex.
It wasn't just concertgoers. As people walked out of the theatre with their popcorn leftovers, they got into their parked cars at Aberdeen Square.
The same kind of pop-up parking was happening on Saturday as motorists ditched their cars in the big courtyard.
While tradespeople have been using the area to access construction sites, it's clear some regular visitors have grown accustomed to the free parking.
One of the bonuses of redeveloping Lansdowne was removing surface parking, although there are some paid parking spaces available on the interior streets. The majority of the parking is now underground.
"It is not a surface parking lot and I'll make sure that staff let people know and that people are ticketed because that area is the responsibility of the city, it's part of the public realm," Mayor Jim Watson said Tuesday.
Watson said there will still be tradespeople parked in the area as work winds down. There are residential and office buildings under construction and more retail stores are moving in.
There are signs explaining Aberdeen Square is for "authorized" parking only, but that might not be good enough. It could require city staff to protect the courtyard.
"I think we may have to look at that, but the reality is a parking ticket will probably do the trick, certainly in the short run, to advise people that is not a parking area. That is supposed to be for pedestrians and cyclists," Watson said.
It raises the larger issue of whether Lansdowne should be completely car free. There still seems to be some confusion about where cars, cyclists and pedestrians should be moving around the site.
"If we still have the same problems in a year from now we're going to have to look at what can we do to make sure everyone is safe. Right now it's still in the midst of being a bit of a construction site," Watson said.
Watson said he wouldn't support banning cars on the surface because people have mobility issues or they just need to quickly access the bank.
"I think we need to add a couple more spots for people with disabilities on the surface," the mayor said.