The Queen Elizabeth Driveway is often empty, while nearby residential streets are clogged with diverted cars. Closure of the Queen Elizabeth Driveway to cars for environmental benefits has had the unintended consequence of diverting heavy traffic onto formerly quiet residential streets in the Glebe east of Bank Street. How can this be fixed? Have your say.
Photos: Rhonda Sim
By Rhonda Sim
The “Big Yellow Taxi” song lyrics by Joni Mitchell have been echoing in my head all summer, as has the roaring buzz of cars. Thanks to the NCC’s closure of the Queen Elizabeth Driveway (QED) for active usage, the Glebe has seen thousands of additional cars a day streaming down its once quiet streets – past parks, busy sidewalks, bike lanes, playgrounds, schools and residences. Thankfully the closure isn’t 24 hours a day like it was last summer. The QED closures of 2020 and 2021 were a welcome reprieve for many who were isolated in their homes due to COVID, and there was less traffic to divert because fewer people were going to the office. 2023 is different. People are now back in their cars with a vengeance.
I am an avid walker, cyclist and tree hugger so I find myself conflicted by the QED closure. I fully support city green spaces, accessibility and ParticipAction. What I don’t support is the resulting traffic being irresponsibly re-routed through a residential neighbourhood, especially a neighbourhood that has been trying for years to implement traffic limiting and calming measures to react to the increased attendance at Lansdowne Park events and downtown intensification projects.
Living east of Bank Street, I am seeing firsthand the streams of cars flowing down neighbouring streets as well as my own. Our side of the Glebe has now become an on-ramp, a thruway, a major artery. And while I head out for my daily walks and bike rides (on the abundant network of existing bike paths, of course), I notice there are very few people actually using the closed-off parkway, at least during the week. Meanwhile there is traffic gridlock everywhere around us. While NCC tries to take a positive step towards climate action, the result is more idling cars, driver frustration, road rage, speeding and other traffic infractions.
There must be a better solution.
In my view, the QED should be closed only on weekends and only for part of the day, and only where traffic can be properly re-routed to major arteries like Bank Street, Bronson Avenue and Carling Avenue. Alternatively, close off Colonel By Driveway which would have less traffic impact on the city and would allow a longer stretch of road to be closed for pedestrians and bikes.
I have been reading the articles in the Ottawa Citizen lately with commentary on the QED closure from Mayor Mark Sutcliffe and the NCC’s Tobi Nussbaum, as well as the heated and often humorous comments submitted by readers. I’m just happy the topic is getting some attention. While mine is the opinion of an affected east-Glebe resident, it’s important to hear from other areas of the Glebe and Glebe businesses. How have you been impacted by the QED closure? And what are your ideas to fix it? It’s important to get your opinions heard. Here’s how to do it.
Send emails to the following:
NCC responsible for the closure of the QED Parkway.
Yasir Naqvi, Member of Parliament, Ottawa Centre, since QED is under federal jurisdiction.
Mayor Mark Sutcliffe, who recently opined that the usage didn’t warrant the closure.
Local councillor Shawn Menard, whose office has voiced concerns to the NCC and city staff and is a response to suggested mitigation measures.
Fill out the NCC Active Use Program 2023 survey. It’s unknown how long this survey will be available so get your opinion in today. Be forewarned, the survey is geared to users of the Active Use Program, not the residents of Ottawa.
Our city is growing, our streets are busy, there are many ongoing construction projects, and we are further limiting cars by closing a major artery. If Lansdowne Park wasn’t hard to get to before, the QED closure certainly isn’t helping those businesses and Lansdowne residents. And what’s going to happen when construction on Lansdowne 2.0 starts and the new Civic Hospital is up and running? Driving through here? I don’t think so!
Rhonda Sim is an east Glebe resident, a walker and a biker.