Maddie Fulford, 10, hands out welcoming flyers as the official opening of Lansdowne Park took place Friday and is the culmination of more than a year of intensive construction to complete the new 18-acre urban park. Wayne Cuddington / Ottawa Citizen
What sort of organization gets the public all excited about a huge project like Lansdowne’s urban park then quietly closes parts of it down with no explanation?
That would be your city government at work. Or not, as the case may be.
After this weekend’s splashy public opening of the $42-million urban park — the price includes the relocation and renovation of the Horticulture Building — visitors to the play area and skatepark found these already-popular elements mysteriously cordoned off. No signage, no notice, no public service announcement until after the Citizen’s David Reevely made inquiries to the city.
It turns out that crews working furiously on Lansdowne’s urban park ran out of time to pour the rubberized surface for the play area before the grand opening. Instead of keeping the playground closed, city officials decided to cover the ground with wood chips temporarily for the weekend. It was the right decision — the children’s play area and skatepark were the huge hits.
Anyone who’s ever lived through a home improvement project can have some sympathy for others suffering renovation delays. So it’s not the fact that the park wasn’t completely finished that’s inexcusable, it’s the way the city handled the news. Did they think that no one would notice the play area and skatepark were off limits? Not even local Coun. David Chernushenko knew about the closures until reading about it on Twitter.
The communications were “not handled in as proficient a manner as we would have hoped,” admitted the city’s parks and recreation manager, Dan Chenier.
Two days after Lansdowne’s grand opening, its playground and skate park have been closed for more work.
Indeed. Chenier went on to explain that there was some confusion as to how quickly the crews would move to install the permanent rubberized surface, which will need at least a few dry days to pour and cure. Chenier said he hopes the play area and skatepark — which has to be closed during the work because of its proximity to the playground — will be open again this weekend, but the timing is weather dependent.
But the incident raises another question: How was the opening date for the park determined? Was the date based on practicality? Or politics?
David Reevely, Ottawa Citizen
Two days after the grand opening of the new “urban park” at Lansdowne, two of its key features have been closed — the playground because it isn’t finished and the skate park because it’s crumbling.
Monday afternoon, skateboarders had taken over the basketball courts when they found the nearby ramps and rails of the skate park fenced off, along with the nearby playground. The “great lawn” is open, but mostly what Lansdowne offers this week is empty plazas and views of the ongoing construction work. A promised water plaza isn’t ready yet and neither is a grassy berm with a lighted sculpture.
During the opening festivities on Saturday and then again on Sunday, dozens of children at a time swarmed Lansdowne’s playground, whose main feature is an undulating piece of metalwork covered in nets and climbing ropes. On Monday, the wood chips under the structure had been cleared away and ribbed plastic tubing was strewn around. No signs explained the closure.
“Last week’s weather prevented completion of the finishing touches on the play structure area, which needed dry conditions,” said the city’s general manager of infrastructure, Wayne Newell, in written answers to questions from the Citizen. “However, the City made certain the structure was available for the public over the weekend. The final elements in the play structure are now being completed.”
The work should take about a week, he wrote.
Bus load on Lakeside Avenue cut by at least half for Friday game
Carys Mills, Ottawa Citizen
There will be fewer shuttle buses taking Lakeside Avenue for Friday's Redblacks game, following concerns from some residents of the quiet street.
Capital Ward Coun. David Chernushenko said Monday that changes to the shuttle route for this week's game will result in at least a 50-per-cent reduction in the number of shuttle buses taking Lakeside Avenue, which is close to Dow's Lake.
"Nothing is permanent, in that this going to be tested. We'll be crunching the numbers," Chernushenko said, adding assessment of the "pilot project" will include how long new routes take and whether they cause changes to shuttle usage.
Instead of taking Lakeside Avenue, buses picking people up at the Canada Post and Vincent Massey Park parking lots will use Heron Road and Prince of Wales Drive to get to Queen Elizabeth Driveway and ultimately TD Place.
Also being assessed in the pilot project will be the diversion of out-of-service buses to and from Carleton University and the R.A. Centre.
Some deadheaded pre-game buses on those routes will be diverted on to Preston Street and Carling Avenue and timed to judge the effectiveness of the trial route.
That diversion could reduce bus volumes on Lakeside Avenue by an extra 15 per cent.
Alison Sandor, CFRA
The City will divert the majority of game day shuttle buses to TD Place off of a small residential road in Old Ottawa South.
Capital Ward Councillor David Chernushenko told CFRA's Madely in the Morning, they will be diverting most buses off of Lakeside Avenue.
"We found a way to reduce the number of shuttle buses that will use Lakeside by more than 65 per cent," said Chernushenko.
He said they've determined it is better for the majority of buses to use another route.
"We found that people who are taking shuttles from Canada Post and Vincent Massey Park - the shuttle parking lots there - that running the buses down Heron, then the Prince of Wales Driveway onto QED [Queen Elizabeth Driveway] to Lansdowne, that's just as fast, maybe even faster than using the route that was Bronson and Lakeside," said Chernushenko.
He said they've also decided that empty buses will also be re-routed off of residential streets. Post-game buses will also use a longer route to get back to the parking lots.
"By that time in the evening, the traffic is so light on the streets, we feel that they can still be an effective, efficient route," Chernushenko said of the main routes.
Lakeside residents have been protesting the use of their street - saying it was dangerous to run 500 shuttle buses up their small road every REDBLACKS and Fury game.
Thirty-five per cent of shuttles will still be running along Lakeside, but Chernushenko said they will still be looking at improvements that they can make.