Lansdowne confusion could spur parking ban

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Joanne Chianello, Ottawa Citizen

On-street parking at Lansdowne Park continues to be so confusing that Mayor Jim Watson says the city may look at banning street parking on the site if the issue isn’t cleared up by next year.

In the meantime, the city must come up with a plan to stop illegal parking in front of the Cineplex, the mayor told reporters Tuesday.

Watson is not in favour of getting rid of the approximately 50 "legitimate" onstreet parking spots at the redeveloped retail and entertainment complex on Bank Street, which has been opening in stages since 2014. He said the on-street spots can be helpful to people with mobility issues.

“They just want to pop in to the bank for five minutes, and that option should be available,” said the mayor, adding there should probably be “a few more spots” for people with disabilities.

But Watson did concede that there continues to be confusion between cars, pedestrians and cyclists at Lansdowne, with each type of traveller not sure where he or she should go, or who has the right of way. And there have been ongoing issues with illegal parking in front of the recently opened Cineplex theatre complex.

Watson hopes that when the construction on the Lansdowne site is finally complete, it will be easier for everyone to get around. However, when asked if the city should consider banning surface parking, Watson didn’t rule it out. “If we still have the same problems in a year from now, we’re going to have to look at what we can do to make everyone safe,” he said. “Right now, it’s still in the midst of being a construction site.

“You’ve got all the office construction on the front, you’ve got fit-ups of some of the stores and restaurants on either side of the Cineplex.”

The area in front of the Cineplex is public space and controlled by the city. During Monday’s Def Leppard concert at the TD Place arena, dozens of people were parked in front of the theatre. While tradespeople are allowed to park there during construction — hence the “Authorized Parking Only” signs that are erected in the area — that space “is not a parking lot,” Watson said.

“That area around the Cineplex is too confusing right now and we have to do something about it,” he said.

Measures could include better signage, or city staff directing traffic during major events like concerts. And there’s always the option of levying fines as a deterrent.

“Parking tickets would do the trick, certainly in the short run,” Watson said.

To Lansdowne with trepidation

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Phil Jenkins, Ottawa Citizen

It was as much by accident as design that I found myself wandering Lansdowne Park on a sunny, midweek midday. In search of a buzz tea from Ecuador, I entered the mall section, noting the numbing uniformity of design in the buildings and their frontage, and paused. What had been to my left before? The Coliseum building and a small park. The Coliseum, built 1903, demolished 109 years later. The park, Sylvia Holden (a community activist, born 1930) Commemorative, opened 1994 by a Councillor Watson, bulldozed 18 years later.

Halfway up the escalator to the grocery store I read the business’s mission statement on the wall ahead of me, gagged, came down again and walked out into daylight and made for the Cattle Castle, which was looking majestic and friendly. The stores in the retail corridor appeared fairly upmarket to my bank account, and a brave restaurant had set up a patio where several people were podded into music to drown the din of construction nearby. Between the buildings short, wide alleyways led to Holmwood Avenue. Scurrying out to the street I looked left and right. Diversely styled and aged homes on the north side; a still under-construction phalanx of cloned town houses on the north. The clone homes have the better view; the older homes all have the same view.

At the end of the corridor, which I believe will eventually be tree-lined, the side of the relocated Horticulture building was all glass and empty inside awaiting tenants. The facade has been beautifully restored to the way it looked when it was built to Francis Sullivan’s design in 1914, in the Prairie style of Frank Lloyd Wright. I realize now as I write this that there are Prairie elements in the retail buildings on the corridors. A plaque outside the Castle reminded me that the Princess Patricia’s regiment started here in 1914. Fitting now that it will be a peaceful farmer’s market.

Glebe councillor says parking cars on TD Place field a bad idea

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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.

Stadium parking idea comes "out of left field": Critic

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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.

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.

OSEG to seek tourism designation for Lansdowne

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By Jon Willing, Ottawa Sun

The Ottawa Sports and Entertainment Group will submit an application to declare Lansdowne Park a tourism site, the CEO says.

"We'll be working on that as soon as possible," Bernie Ashe said Monday.

Ashe said the company is working with the Glebe BIA and hopes to have the paperwork filed at City Hall within 60 days. From there, it will be up to council to make a decision.

Declaring Lansdowne a tourist site would allow stores to be open on statutory holidays, adding to existing sites in Ottawa that include the Byward Market and Rideau St.

Whole Foods at Lansdowne received a visit from police on Good Friday when the store was open against the law. The grocer claims it thought Lansdowne already had tourism designation.

OSEG, which is the city's partner in the Lansdowne redevelopment, is the landlord for the retail stores.

Since council's meeting schedule thins out over the summer, Ashe doesn't expect a quick turnaround on a decision.

Ashe on Monday was at City Hall fielding questions from council's transportation committee about the first year of traffic and parking for major events at Lansdowne.

The committee, which includes Lansdowne-area Coun. David Chernushenko, agreed the traffic and parking problem wasn't as bad as some thought it would be.

"It gives me great pleasure to say nobody is saying, 'I told you so'," Chernushenko said.

The local community associations want the city to protect on-street parking for residents and get more people to take OC Transpo.

The Glebe BIA wants the city to consider a free fare zone on Bank St. to encourage transit use. Transpo says it's feasible but the lost revenue would need to be recouped somehow.

Orléans Coun. Bob Monette brought up concerns about transportation to the site in the winter and traffic gridlock on Bank St.

Ashe said OSEG would be open to allowing cars to park on TD Place field for events in the winter -- such as Ottawa 67s games -- since it's not being used.

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Twitter: @JonathanWilling

Mayor disappointed with grocer’s Good Friday snub

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By Jon Willing, Ottawa Sun

Mayor Jim Watson says he’s “disappointed” the green grocer at Lansdowne Park broke the law by opening on Good Friday.

“I was not pleased that Whole Foods decided to just snub their nose at the provincial law,” Watson said Tuesday. “If they want to have a discussion about a tourism designation for Lansdowne, there’s a proper process to follow that through.”

Watson said he would be interested in the public’s opinion if the city was to consider a tourism designation for Lansdowne Park, making it legal for stores to open on statutory holidays.

“Until we get an application we’re not going to proactively go out and start designating areas as tourism areas,” Watson said.

The Ottawa Sports and Entertainment Group, the landlord for retail at Lansdowne, is considering whether or not it will apply for tourism status.

A Whole Foods spokeswoman on the weekend said the grocer thought Lansdowne had a tourism designation. The grocery store was closed on Easter Sunday.

Watson said he’s conflicted over allowing more shopping on stat holidays in Ottawa.

“It is a divisive issue. I have been living across the street from Whole Foods (in respite care recovering from a pelvic fracture) and on that day I was out hobbling along and people were going in and out of it with great numbers,” Watson said. “On the one hand there’s consumer demand that want it, but on the other hand there’s the fairness to the employees and the other businesses that didn’t open and followed the law.”

Capital Coun. David Chernushenko said any discussion about giving Lansdowne tourism status must also include the larger Glebe business area.

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City, OSEG in showdown over $17M in Civic Centre bill

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BY Jon Willing, Ottawa Sun

The city and its Lansdowne Park partner could face each other in the legal arena this year over $17 million in steel repairs at the old Civic Centre.

The Ottawa Sports and Entertainment Group has paid for the renovations at the TD Place arena, even though the company has questioned if should be on the hook for the extra costs.

The deal to redevelop Lansdowne includes a dispute resolution provision requiring the two sides to talk it out before signing up for arbitration.

The city and OSEG have been talking about it for more than a year.

According to the city, both sides are getting their legal guns ready before deciding if an arbitrator should decide who pays the massive bill.

"Each party has retained legal counsel and they are preparing the case for their respective client," city solicitor and clerk Rick O'Connor said Wednesday in an e-mail to the Sun.

O'Connor said if the negotiations can't resolve the disagreement, the dispute would head to arbitration later this year or in early 2016.

Glebe to concerts: Come on down — carefully

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Tom Spears, Ottawa Citizen

The Glebe is offering a welcome, if not a noisy one, to Def Leppard and the just-renamed CityFolk festival.

Both will play at the newly renovated Lansdowne Park, it was revealed Tuesday.

Glebe residents have complained in the past about noise from the Central Canada Exhibition, especially concerts at night. This year's Folk Festival at Hog's Back Park also brought noise complaints, some from the Glebe, which is about four kilometres away.

"The idea of concerts taking place at Lansdowne has always been part of the expectation," resident Bob Brocklebank.

"Even when Lansdowne consisted mostly of asphalt, there were concerts there, too," said Brocklebank, who has just finished a term in charge of Lansdowne issues at the Glebe Community Association.

"The problem is to work out a working relationship between the community and the concert organizers so that everybody can get along," he said. That would include concert hours and noise levels.

"We don't expect to be able to hear the hummingbird's wings flapping if you live downtown. You're accustomed to the traffic and noise and air-conditioning units," he said.

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.