Lansdowne and Traffic Lies

A while back, The Citizen ran a review of the first couple of years of Lansdowne Park. It was a thorough review and well done (though it did fall into the trap of saying it was better than what was there before as if that’s any sort of standard whatsoever…it’s not rubble, yay us!).

I won’t really dig deep into the article. I’ve written enough about Lansdowne (and I’m sure I’ll write more in the future). It may not be a failure, but it has numerous failings and whatever successes it has had (it has a few) have occurred in spite of the efforts of the city and OSEG to ruin the park. So, yeah, it’s underwhelming, but there’s still potential (to an extent, there will always be potential; eventually, potential won’t be good enough).

The piece was critical of Lansdowne (though probably not critical enough…who wants to be that much of a downer?), and, naturally, that prompted a response from OSEG in the form of an open letter from CEO Bernie Ash. It’s the usual sort of corporate speak that you’d expect. It didn’t make a compelling case for Lansdowne, but there wasn’t much to object to, either.

Much.

There is at least one area in which Lansdowne is an absolute, utter failure: traffic. Since it opened, Bank Street has been a mess on Saturdays and Sundays. Despite vague gestures to sustainable transport by the city and OSEG, people are still driving there (perhaps because OSEG regularly turns the whole place into a parking lot, has painted traffic lines all over its pedestrian space and merchants validate parking). The neighbourhood has a legitimate beef about the horrible state of traffic and transit to and from Lansdowne (and the lacking bus service along Bank Street really doesn’t help).

Mr. Ashe addresses this, sort of:

The biggest fear expressed in the public hearings during the pre-development stage was that increased vehicular traffic in the Glebe would isolate the neighbourhood, just like the Citizen’s Andrew Cohen might be at an Ottawa Tourism party (see his widely panned column). That fear was not realized. In fact, a survey of Glebe residents, quoted in the Citizen series revealed a tremendous level of satisfaction with the transportation plans that were implemented to minimize car travel to Lansdowne on major event days and maximize the utilization of OC Transpo service.

Do you see what he did there? He didn’t address the issue of traffic. He addressed the issue of traffic on event nights. (And, you know, traffic is bad on event nights, but maybe not as bad as it could be…once again, Lansdowne clears a very low bar.) But event nights aren’t the issue. Every weekend, traffic is backed up along Bank Street no matter what is going on at the park. That is the issue.

OSEG has done this before. When confronted with traffic problems, they sidestep the issue and talk about something else (traffic for events). It is incredibly dishonest, and quite insulting to their audience.

So they’re not telling the truth, but they’re not lying, exactly. Yet another low bar to clear.

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