12 August 2014

David Chernushenko
David Chernushenko
Councillor for Capital Ward
Conseiller pour le quartier Capitale

In this issue

A good start

The re-opening of Lansdowne Park, specifically the stadium now known as TD Place, was preceded by many predictions of traffic gridlock, parking paralysis and generally nightmarish conditions in the Glebe and Old Ottawa South. Based on past experience, it's not hard to understand why anyone would expect the worst. Take what existed before, subtract 2,000 parking spaces, add a lot of retail and restaurant/bar activity into the mix, and you are bound to get gridlock. Fortunately, that is not what has transpired to date. Granted, the retail and restaurants at Lansdowne are not yet open, but many people expected major bottlenecks nonetheless.

What we've seen so far compares favourably with the typical game day experience of the past few decades. There has been some congestion at specific times and places. There has been some confusion over where to catch the shuttle bus, where to lock your bicycle, and which gates are open at Lansdowne. And there has been the usual smattering of intoxicated patrons and an unruly exodus from the stadium. But on the whole, event days have gone surprisingly smoothly.

It's hard to say to what extent this is due to good planning, augmented regular bus service combined with special shuttles, and a whole lot of advance "messaging" about enjoying the game day experience more by leaving the car at home or at a shuttle lot. Probably it's all of these things. So, I am breathing a sigh of relief for now, and renewing my commitment to modify and tweak things over the remainder of the season. That's a much better place to work from than trying to fix a broken plan.

Shuttle bus adjustments

Shuttle buses on residential streets are a sore point for many. Specifically, the residents of Lakeside Dr. are not happy that the shuttle bus route for major events (15,000 patrons and above) includes their street as the shortest connection between Bronson Ave. and Queen Elizabeth Dr. Other residents worry that the buses may be diverted to their streets.

Ideally, shuttle buses would stay off residential streets and stick to arterial roads. In this case, it would be possible to take a longer route along Carling and Preston, but at the expense of efficiency. Council approved the initial plan because of fears that a longer route would make shuttle bus use unattractive to Lansdowne patrons. In essence, the goal of getting people out of cars (and thus not parking on local streets) won out over the inconvenience and imposition of having 400-plus shuttle buses on a residential street.

There is a certain logic to this approach — more than 5,000 people used the shuttle service for the first Redblacks game on July 18, which translated into about 2,000 fewer vehicles on area roads and fewer people trying to park in the neighbourhood. But that's little comfort to anyone whose street is chosen as the "logical" route.

The City settled on the initial route only after lengthy discussion of Lakeside residents' concerns. And although Lakeside remained the preferred initial route, the City made a commitment to test other routes, and to carefully monitor shuttle bus numbers, speeds and general safety on the street.

Already, some significant adjustments are being tested for the upcoming RedBlacks game this Friday:

  • Buses servicing the Vincent Massey Park and Canada Post shuttle lots will test a route along Heron/Baseline Rd. and Prince of Wales Dr. rather than Lakeside Dr. This should result in 50 percent less shuttle traffic on Lakeside.
  • A route using Bronson Ave., Carling Ave. and Preston St. is being considered for Carleton University and RA Centre shuttle buses returning empty after they have dropped off passengers. The proposed diversion could reduce shuttle bus volumes on Lakeside by an additional 15 percent.

The City and Lansdowne Traffic Monitoring Operations Committee (LTMOC) will continue to monitor shuttle operations and make adjustments where possible to address residents' concerns and provide for the safe operation of the shuttles. If these route tests are successful, the changes could be incorporated into the shuttle schedule for future games, resulting in as many as 60 to 70 percent of shuttles being diverted from Lakeside.

Traffic survey

Lansdowne/TD Place transportation is a work in progress, with changes being tested throughout this opening season, monitored and ultimately accepted or rejected. With the stadium now open and two teams now playing there, the best way to know what works and what doesn't — and just how great the impact is on residents of streets like Lakeside — is to try different options, and then remain willing to continually improve on what results.

As part of the evaluation process, the City is seeking feedback about what local residents and business owners have seen on game days. Please complete this online survey to share your experiences. (Some questions refer to an upcoming game and this weekend's official opening, but the City is hoping people will complete the survey sooner.)

Lansdowne Park official opening

Saturday, August 16, 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.
Rain or shine

The City of Ottawa is hosting an official opening of Lansdowne Park, with an old-fashioned carnival and picnic and a chance to explore the newest green space in downtown Ottawa. The event will happen rain or shine, so dress accordingly.

  • An old-fashioned fair: Enjoy a ride on a vintage Ferris wheel or carousel, and then take part in picnic games of old, like potato sack races and a bean-bag toss. There will also be face painting and arts and crafts like kite building, button-making and balloon animals. There will be free cotton candy and popcorn, and a chance to have your photo taken in period costumes at the photo booth.
  • A picnic in the park: Pack a picnic basket and spread out a blanket for lunch on the Great Lawn. There will be a farmers' market as well as a variety of local food trucks set up in the Aberdeen Square with lunch options available for purchase. Food truck vendors are graciously donating 10 percent of the day's profits to the Ottawa Food Bank!
  • Grey Cup: Visit a special exhibit on Ottawa's football history and see the Grey Cup on display! Bring a camera and get your picture taken with the Cup.
  • Entertainment: From 11:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m,. there will be entertainment on the main stage, on the south side of Aberdeen Pavilion. Local musicians James Leclaire and The Cable 22's and Les St-Pierre will perform, as well as Centrepointe Theatre's Kick It – A Dance Club for Kids. There will be acrobats, jugglers and other performers roaming the park, and you can also take part in sporting activities like ball hockey, progressive tennis and a cycling rodeo.
  • Exhibits: Step back in time at Aberdeen Pavilion to learn about the history of Lansdowne and Ottawa. Enjoy interactive displays about the park's military, exhibition, and agricultural past. Historic vehicles and machinery on display will give you an idea of how life in the Ottawa area has changed.