[ezcol_1half]By Brian Mitchell
What a contrast from the two previous years! There was no media scrum, no call from the CBC, not even a question from a councillor on April 6 after the Glebe Community Association (GCA) presented to the City’s Transportation Committee during their annual review of Lansdowne traffic monitoring. Does this mean that the community’s concerns with Lansdowne traffic have subsided, or are resolved? Well, sort of.
Most respondents described the traffic situation as “manageable” last October through a Lansdowne impact survey conducted by the GCA. Indeed, the monitoring carried out by the City in 2015 suggests that the volume of traffic on Bank Street generated by day-to-day activities at Lansdowne is less than was originally forecasted when the redevelopment was approved. And perhaps most important of all, the City and OSEG ultimately adopted most of the community’s recommendations from 2013 to mitigate the traffic impact of the new Lansdowne. Shuttle buses have been removed from Lakeside, safe crossings have been installed on the Queen Elizabeth Driveway (QED) at Fifth and will be soon at Queen Elizabeth Place, cycling routes are being laid down throughout the Glebe, and signs have been installed to direct motorists to use the QED instead of Bank Street as the primary access route to Lansdowne.
That’s not to say there aren’t problems. Paramount are issues affecting residents within two or three blocks of Lansdowne. Parking has become nearly impossible for many, particularly those living on the west side of Bank. Here too there is some good news. In February, OSEG implemented a welcome offer to provide parking at a nominal cost during weekdays for Glebe Centre volunteers, visitors, and Abbotsford House clients. And in May, with the support of the City, residents on the streets closest to the Glebe Centre (e.g. Wilton, Oakland and Woodlawn) will be conducting petitions to reduce on-street parking limits from three hours to two hours – restrictions that will (if two-thirds of affected households agree) be in force from 7 a.m. to 11 p.m., seven days a week. Those residents will also be able to purchase annual guest permits allowing their short-term visitors to park up to three hours during the restricted period, much like residents living near Lansdowne on the east side of Bank have been able to do since the Park re-opened.
[/ezcol_1half] [ezcol_1half_end]Other challenges remain unresolved. One that the community highlighted through last year’s survey was safety, particularly for cyclists and pedestrians, on the Bank Street Bridge and in front of Lansdowne. One possible solution that is gaining some traction is to restrict motorists to just the inner lanes during off-peak hours. Another unresolved safety concern is the Lansdowne site itself. The venue has, to many, become a car priority zone rather than a pedestrian priority one, as was first envisioned. The community has also been unsuccessful in getting the City to adopt significant measures that would promote transit as the preferred means to access Lansdowne, sporting events aside. This will take on even greater importance in 2018 when the LRT opens. At present, OC Transpo has no plans to create a rapid connection between Lansdowne and the LRT. They believe that bus service on Bank Street from Queen is sufficiently rapid! A more sensible and attractive way to connect Lansdowne to the LRT, albeit requiring cooperation from the NCC, might be a connector route on the QED from the Carling O-Train station.
The City’s efforts, together with those of the GCA and our neighbouring community associations, to monitor the traffic impact of Lansdowne will continue for one more year. Monitoring this summer will be crucial in seeing how traffic patterns evolve in Lansdowne’s second year of day-to-day operations with even more retail and restaurant activities taking place. OSEG is adjusting its shuttle routes for this season’s Redblacks games to include free parking for event-goers at the City Hall parking lot, in addition to the one used in the south at Canada Post. Both will use the QED as the shuttle route. Last year saw a marked increase in the number of cars parking in the Glebe during Redblacks games; thus it will be important to monitor the parking impact this year and hope that trend is reversed.
So, next April, there will be one last report presented to the Transportation Committee on the traffic impact of Lansdowne and a final opportunity for the community to have its say on this issue before we all move on to other files. (Do I hear “Bronson Avenue reconstruction?”)
Brian Mitchell is a member of the Glebe Community Association’s Traffic Committee and represents the GCA on the Lansdowne Transportation Monitoring Operations Committee.[/ezcol_1half_end]