Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Lansdowne Live: City Hall Open House

[After attending tonight's lengthy Open House and Q&A meeting on Lansdowne Park, I accumulated a lot of handouts and took a lot of notes. I'll try to post as much of the more useful information as I have time tonight, split into separate posts.]

So here's some of what happened at the Open House on Lansdowne Park. I don't have the time or the energy to go through all 200 minutes of audio recording, nor even the twelve pages of handwritten notes from the Question & Answer session (I will post a summary of that session after this post).

Here's a view of Jean Pigott Place at Ottawa City Hall. The many billboards with logos of the City of Ottawa and "Lansdowne: The Transformation of Lansdowne Park / La transformation du parc Lansdowne" were spread around the room:

Friends of Lansdowne Park had their own handouts, and their members were on hand, wearing green "Ask Me!" t-shirts and collecting petition signatures. Copies of their handouts and others were left on the tables, including the Glebe BIA's "Stop The Lansdowne Mall" brochure. Meanwhile, the City of Ottawa had many copies on hand of the various materials (including comment forms) for people to pore through.

Those with alternative proposals were stuffed into a corner. John Martin found a spot under a staircase to make his case to passersby heading to the official City of Ottawa consultation (according to this Citizen story, he was issued a trespassing notice. Any wonder pro-Lansdowne Live councillors say they haven't heard alternate proposals come forward?):

I learned some interesting things talking to the various consultants and attendees. The following photo (click to enlarge, as always) shows a display panel on "The Retail & Commerce Approach". Pasted onto it is a smaller plaque that reads "The Glebe Business Improvement Area (BIA) has commissioned, with the assistance of City of Ottawa funding, a retail market study conducted by Ottawa based Market Research Corporation. The results of this study will be available at ottawa.ca"

During the Q&A session, City Manager Kent Kirkpatrick said that an assessment by the Glebe BIA (presumably the one referenced in the panel appendix above) found the market capacity to be much less than that conducted on behalf of OSEG (Lansdowne Live proponents).

I spoke with Mike Foley, of Trinity Development Group (who specializes in retail), about this panel. Specifically, it suggests 16,000 square feet of space allocated in the Horticultural building to the Ottawa Farmer's Market. I asked him how many stalls this would accommodate, and he said he didn't know, but he'd ask the Farmer's Market people next time he comes across them how big their stalls are. He says that the feedback he's gotten from the Farmer's Market people is that they're excited that they're part of the plan, yet they also are also asking him if they are part of the plan, and if they'll have enough room.

Eyeballing it based on how much room the farmer's market takes now, it looks like they're getting a cut in space, despite constantly growing.

Then someone else came up and asked Mr. Foley some questions, including whether they had planned bike parking areas at Lansdowne Live, and Foley admitted they hadn't.

I moved on to this panel regarding transportation:

I was curious that "Aggressive Transportation Demand Management (TDM) initiatives" would be taken for events with over 15,000 people, but even more would be done for larger scale events. Unfortunately, no consultants were standing anywhere near this panel, so it took me a while to ask them what size of event would trigger this, if it had to be greater than "greater than 15,000."

I asked the question at another Transportation panel, which had some better information about the size of different events and what measures they would take. Evidently, they're counting on being able to use the NCC-controlled Queen Elizabeth Drive for large-scale events. We'll see.

This panel also made the discussion with Mike Foley more interesting (the one where he said they hadn't even considered a bike parking area), as it suggests that 10% of people attending medium-to-large events would bike or walk, representing 1000 people at a minor event, 2000 people at a CFL game or large concert, or 6000 people at a very large event. Strange that they'd suggest so many people would bike there, yet no place would be provided for them to lock their bikes.

Ron Jack of Delcan did some smooth talking on the traffic impacts of the site, essentially saying that day-to-day traffic along Bank wouldn't increase more than ten per cent, and that we've already had large events where we've closed parking along Bank (or close Bank itself) so everything will be fine.

I then listened to David Jeanes' various commentary on transportation issues. He pointed out that the Carling O-Train station was not considered as a place to shuttle patrons to Lansdowne Park, even though it's closer than the downtown, Carleton U and Billings Bridge rapid transit stations, and there's a nearly direct route along Queen Elizabeth Drive. If rail rapid transit is built along Carling, it will serve as an excellent node for passengers coming in on rapid transit from the West. Currently they have to come from Carleton or Billings Bridge, neither of which is convenient for west-end residents.

David also pointed out that new retail development to be built on top of the large metal struts on the Civic Centre will partially block the view of the Aberdeen Pavillion from Bank Street, even though the new retail development on the North side of this vista was carefully designed to protect the view to the Cattle Castle.

We all wondered where the bus loop was for buses dropping off passengers. Pat Scrimgeour of OC Transpo explained that they'd lay up along Bank Street, where parking would be prohibited for large events, and they'd also use Queen Elizabeth if required and permitted. A safe pedestrian crossing will be needed for passengers coming from the North.

It's very frustrating that while the City is trying to invest its transit funds in a rail rapid transit network, we're seeing a proposal here that is heavily dependent on significant levels of bus service. This will invariably cost us a lot of money on having buses available and drivers working odd shifts, which will eat into the savings we're supposed to be getting from a rail-based system that is less expensive to operate.

Next up: a summary of the Q&A session.

- RG>

1 comment:

Erigami said...

As you say, it's bizarre that the city is looking at spending billions of dollars on a new transit infrastructure, and $120 million on a new stadium, and yet the two are nowhere near each other. The two shouldn't be developed in isolation.