Busy Like Tuesday Morning

Last month, a CBC Halifax reporter contacted me. Halifax is trying to land a CFL franchise, and they’re looking to Lansdowne (among other stadium development projects) as a model for building a new stadium. In case you don’t know, I have, in the past, been critical of the Lansdowne experiment, and that’s why the reporter wished to speak to me.

Now, I’ve tried to refrain from trashing Lansdowne too much, recently. Yes, it’s a massive failure, and, yes, the city and OSEG have only made it worse over the past few years, but I still have a lot of fondness for the park; I still want it to succeed; and I still think it has a lot of potential.

I noted that the second and last coffee shop just recently closed (I miss you, Aroma!). For all the talk of Lansdowne being an “urban village”, what kind of urban area can’t keep a coffee shop open?

The reporter spoke to other people, and one person noted that it’s great. The place is hopping when there’s a RedBlack’s game on. It’s busy when there’s some sort of special event. It’s just a smashing success!

Well, yes, when 25,000 people head to one spot to watch one of ten football games in a year, the place will look pretty packed. I don’t see how this really tells us anything about the real nature–the DNA, if you will–of Lansdowne.

I like to talk about the Tuesday Morning Test (I’m pretty sure I stole that from someone, but I can’t remember who). Basically, yes, when there’s a special event happening, a place will be busy. Yes, when you’ve got a bunch of bars and restaurants, a place will be busy. What happens the rest of the time? What’s it like on a day-to-day basis? What’s it like on Tuesday morning?

Lansdowne is dead on Tuesday mornings, and much of the rest of the time. Judging by attendance to special events is completely ignoring how urban, city life actually functions.

I’ve heard people deride this idea–why would we concern ourselves with Tuesday morning, everywhere  is dead on Tuesday morning.

This is an incredibly ignorant and myopic view.

If you think everywhere is dead on Tuesday morning, you probably don’t spend a lot of time in urban areas. I’m guessing you live in the suburbs, maybe travel to your office building downtown or in Kanata, and never really venture very far from those locations during the weekday.

Because cities–urban areas–are alive during the week. They’re not as hopping as they are on a Friday night, perhaps, but there are people about. They’re going to work, getting breakfast, walking their pets, taking their kids to school, buying coffee, and on and on and on.

And if you walk half a block from Lansdowne, you’ll see this. Bank Street is alive on a normal Tuesday morning…throughout the entire morning. There are people out. Maybe they’re heading to appointments. Maybe they’re shopping. Maybe they’re meeting colleagues. Maybe they’re buying coffee.

So the closest, comparison, the very street on which Lansdowne resides is alive just about at all times. That Lansdowne can’t come close to mimicking this is an indictment of the park. It doesn’t matter if it’s busy on the weekend. It should be busy at all times.

(And, let’s also note that Lansdowne is regularly quite quiet on weekends. I’m there most Friday evenings, and although the restaurants may be full, the grounds are not. There are few people walking around. This isn’t urban life, at all.)

So if you’re mocking the Tuesday Morning Test, you’re revealing a whole lot more about yourself than you are about Lansdowne.

But, whatever, maybe I’ll just switch to the Coffee Shop Test.

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