Living with Lansdowne
By Brian Mitchell
Phase one: the stadium
By the time this article is printed, we will know if the July 18 “miracle” was repeated. Many Glebe residents described the Redblack’s home-opener at TD Place as one of the “quietest football games at Lansdowne ever.” And yet there really were 24,000 fans in attendance! Bank Street just prior to the game was described as eerily calm. Although most available on-street parking was taken up by football-goers, there were a few vacant spaces. Holmwood Avenue beside Lansdowne did not have a single car parked on it, thanks to the new one-hour parking restriction in place. Wow!
To give credit where it’s due, this came about through consistent and effective messaging by the City and the Ottawa Sports and Entertainment Group (OSEG) to advise fans not to drive to Lansdowne and to use the park-and-ride shuttles or transit instead. And the fans listened! Over 33% of attendees used OC Transpo or STO services to get to the game – well, well over the 20% projected in the transportation planning for Lansdowne! That’s an impressive change in citizen behaviour in this car-centric city – let’s hope it continues! Indeed, OC Transpo will be adding even more express buses to ferry fans for the next Redblacks game.
Besides the successful messaging, another contributing factor that minimized the number of cars entering the Glebe for the events at Lansdowne was the implementation of some long-requested measures by the City and the NCC. These included the one-hour evening parking and no-stopping restrictions (and guest permit system) now in place on Adelaide, Holmwood and O’Connor beside Lansdowne, and the new pedestrian- and cyclist-friendly signalized crossing at the Queen Elizabeth Driveway (QED) and Fifth.
And The Ugly
One major exception to the relatively minimal impact of the return of football to our community is the use of residential roads for the OSEG park-and-ride shuttle buses. For seven hours on a Friday evening in July, the residents of Lakeside Avenue were subjected to a parade of diesel-fuming school buses rumbling outside their windows – at times there were over a dozen buses bunched up on this short Dow’s Lake street. Fifth Avenue is the other target for these shuttle buses, as residents saw on Sunday, July 20 during the Fury’s home opener. “It was far worse than we could ever have imagined” were the words used by one Lakeside resident to describe a situation that is completely avoidable by having the shuttle buses keep to arterial roads, namely Carling and Preston, to access the QED from Bronson. Since March 2013, the Glebe Community Association (GCA) has been asking the City to respect its own regulations for these private buses, which like trucks and other large vehicles, are prohibited from using residential streets. At the time of writing, the City was considering routing some “off-peak” shuttles onto the arterial route, but it was not willing to change the residential route for the majority of the buses due to fears that the 5-10 minutes of additional driving time might discourage fans from using the shuttle service. The community association will continue to apply pressure on the City to reverse this positon and also to ensure that the use of the Fifth Avenue and Sunnyside shuttle route (instead of the QED route) is kept to an absolute minimum.
Preparing for phase two: the Lansdowne shopping mall
While the community has, for the most part, been pleasantly surprised by the minimal traffic impact of the first stadium events at Lansdowne, the primary concern all along has been with the day-to-day impact of the 10-screen cineplex and the big-box stores such as Whole Foods, Sporting Life and Winners. The community association will continue to press the City to adopt measures to mitigate the traffic impact of these stores on residential streets before they begin opening at the end of this year. The GCA and neighbouring community associations will do so through the monthly (bi-weekly at times!) Lansdowne Transportation Operations Committee meetings involving the City, the NCC and OSEG. And this autumn the GCA will hold an information night, similar to the one held on June 17, to provide information to area residents on what to expect from a traffic and transportation perspective as the new cinema, retail outlets and restaurants begin to open in our community.
In the meantime, residents are encouraged to consult the GCA website (www.glebeca.ca) for information concerning traffic and parking issues associated with activities at Lansdowne. The City of Ottawa has also created an online form (and, in early August, it will conduct an online survey) through which residents can provide their observations and recommendations related to Lansdowne. This form can also be accessed via the GCA website.
Brian Mitchell is chair of the Glebe Community Association Traffic Committee.