Local Pub’s Sexism

There’s a problem at Local, a pub in the re-invigorated Lansdowne. It seems someone got hold of their sign, some chalk and retrograde opinions on the proper role of women. This evening, Catherine Fortin LeFaivre (who ran in Rideau-Vanier last fall) tweeted the question: Is this Oottawa sign at a Lansdowne eatery harmless & lame or just #sexist ?

With this accompanying photo:

In case if isn’t clear, here’s what some representative of Local decided to announce to our community:

Q: How many men does it take to open a budweiser [sic]?

A: None. The Women should already have it open on the table.

Obviously, Ms. LeFaivre was being a tad rhetorical. Local’s message is dripping with sexism, and it’s on display in a prominent, open public space. You can see part of the Aberdeen Pavillion in the background. Lansdowne is supposed to be a place for everyone. It’s for men, women, boys and girls. It is beyond inappropriate for Local to not only hold and broadcast such an opinion, but to abuse the public square to demean half the population.

At the time of writing, Local hasn’t responded to the many tweets slagging them. Hopefully, the management will quickly see the problem with tonight’s message, apologize and make amends.

Update: To their credit, Local has apologized, which was tweeted out the exact same time I hit publish:

Advertisements

Another failure from Lansdowne: Sporting Life and the death of Tommy & Lefebvre

Stores at Lansdowne are starting to open. Lindt, BMO, Winners, Milestone’s and Whole Foods are already doing business. Sporting Life is set to open its doors in a few days. It is this last one that may be the biggest betrayal of all.

I don’t want to rag on Lansdowne. I hope it succeeds. I hope it achieves its goal of being an urban village. I hope it brings some variety to the Glebe shopping experience (and for all that we may, rightfully, rag on the opening of a Winners, there’s pretty much nowhere else in the Glebe or Old Ottawa South to get reasonably-priced clothes). I still think it will, but I think Sporting Life is a significant misstep.

There are a number of reasons to recoil at the opening of Sporting Life. It’s a chain; it doesn’t bring much new to the neighbourhood; it’s facade is looking very box store; it’s not a local company. These are all unfortunate aspects of Sporting Life, but these are not the big problem. The problem is that Sporting Life is killing off Tommy & Lefebvre.

T&L is an Ottawa institution. Founded in 1958–in Ottawa–it’s been a staple of our city’s sporting goods industry for over half a century, it has lasted through tough economic times, and it even rebounded from a fire a few years ago.

Last year, T&L was bought out by Sporting Life. Since then, it has continued to operate out of its Bank Street location. But that’s over now. With the opening of the Sporting Life, T&L will shutter for good.

This is a betrayal of the goals and responsibilities of OSEG. The Lansdowne development was not supposed to cannibalize Bank Street. It wasn’t supposed to steal tenants, robbing the rest of the city of merchants and community icons. It is supposed to nurture Ottawa retailers, not bury them.

There is, of course, a rather simple solution. Sporting Life could resurrect the T&L brand. Sporting Life is not established in Ottawa. There is little brand awareness, and there can’t be much value in adopting the Sporting Life name and ditching the T&L legacy. T&L is part of our community. It’s been around longer than many of us. It is quite sad to see it go. It would be a lovely gesture for Sporting Life to re-establish one of the preeminent Ottawa brands.

Shuttle buses of hate

Returning to an over-discussed topic, the city has decided to reduce the number of shuttle buses going down Lakeside Avenue–a tiny little residential street that usually can’t be used as a shortcut between Bronson and the QED. I’ve read that the reduction will be between 50% and 70%; there won’t be any “dead head” buses using it (buses returning from the stadium to pick up more fans at the park-and-ride); and that there won’t be any buses post-game.

(Though different reports have different info, so who knows how much is true. Regardless of the specifics, there is a reduction.)

It seems like a decent compromise. It still won’t be fun for residents of Lakeside (and it might make more sense to re-route all shuttle buses), but it demonstrates that the city is trying to find the right balance. Personally, I always wondered if the Lakeside route was a short-term gambit to induce people to ride the shuttles–make it really quick at first, then give them slightly longer routes that people won’t really mind.

Of course, civic good will won’t reach everyone. Reading the comments on the Sun article is… enlightening. It’s quite pathetic how people have so little concern for their fellow residents*. The same goes for would-be mayor Darren Wood:

I’m not sure what is the defining aspect of Wood’s tweet: the blatant disdain for Ottawa residents, the Dada-esque use of the English language or his sheer ignorance regarding Ottawa’s geography.

Capture

*Yes, all of you who think this is a capitulation of Chamberlain proportions, I’m calling you pathetic. Because you are.

Furyous Drivers

I have a few quick notes about Lansdowne transportation that I haven’t yet mentioned. I’m doing this bullet-style because it would just be too many words about this top, otherwise. Here you go:

  • After the second RedBlacks home game, Bank Street was a little more congested. It wasn’t really bad, and it didn’t last too long, but traffic did not flow as smoothly for this game. I don’t know if it had to do with the additional parking or what, but it’s interesting.
  • The first Fury game was pretty bad for congestion. A lot more people were driving and Bank didn’t seem to be able to handle to post-soccer traffic (as well as the normal traffic and parking). It cleared out fairly quickly, but, again, interesting.
  • Saturday’s Fury game seemed to have no such problem. I imagine attendance might be down a bit from the opener, and traffic might flow smoother on a Saturday night rather than a Sunday evening.

That’s it. I don’t know if I’ll ever write about this stuff again*.

*I probably will.

This would not be a good protest

I’ve been wondering about the effects of Lansdowne traffic on Lakeside Avenue, a tiny little side street that is being used as a route for shuttle buses (about 500 of them). The residents of Lakeside are the one group of people who looked to be really put-out by the transportation plan, and it appears they were.

And they might have started fighting back.

Shuttle bus drivers complained that after the second RedBlacks home game, people on Lakeside were shining flashlights at them. If true, it’s a very stupid, dangerous and likely illegal form of protest.

One Lakeside resident, however, said it didn’t happen:

Gardam said she and some fans were the only people on the sidewalk post-game. Some neighbours were on a porch counting the buses, she said, but the only lighting was from porch and street lights.

Gardam said the street’s incline and speed bumps can cause car headlights to shine a bit higher, which could be the source of the complaint. She said Lakeside residents wouldn’t do anything to jeopardize safety, and in no way want to interfere with fans using the shuttle buses.

I hope that’s correct, but even without the flashlights, residents had some other forms of protest, slowly crossing the street in front of shuttles and parking their cars to force the buses to slow down. These are perfectly acceptable forms of civil disobedience.

The traffic plan will be re-examined at the end of August. Hopefully, the residents will get at least some relief.

Re-re-visiting Lansdowne: Credit to OSEG

The transportation plan for the first RedBlacks game went off quite smoothly (at least in the Glebe), which is why it was so absurd when an OSEG representative said that, based on the previous success, they were thinking of opening up more streets for on-street parking.

It seems they may have reconsidered, as this morning city workers were out putting up No Parking signs along Bank Street (no parking between 3:30 to 11:30, the brunch crowd is still safe). This is good news. I haven’t finished my morning coffee, yet, so I haven’t been out and I don’t know if I they have restricted parking on any other streets.

Re-visiting Lansdowne

It’s been two weeks since the inaugural RedBlacks home game, and with the second home game coming up tomorrow, I thought I’d go through my impressions of transit to and from the game. I had planned to give an elegant little review, but that never happened, so let’s just go through this bullet-point style. And to warn you, this will be focused the Glebe, since that’s where I live.

Pre-Game:

  • Things worked well. Bank Street wasn’t plugged up, and cars, vehicles and bikes were able to move along pretty freely. I got home form work around 5:00 pm, taking Fifth Avenue to Bank (and then quickly turning left off of Bank). It was easy to turn onto Bank, change lanes and turn at left without the aid of stop light.
  • Buses were running smoothly. They didn’t seem to be blocking other traffic at all.
  • This is primarily because there was no parking, so no need to make non-stop lane changes. Sadly, it seems like we’ll be saddled with parking tomorrow.
  • It was loud, but not too loud along Bank, though the KISS FM tent was obnoxiously loud. Pedestrians moved along quickly, and generally didn’t get in the way.
  • Some pedestrians would cross the street willy-nilly without looking or caring that they were cutting people off.
  • It really was a marvelous carnival atmosphere. This is the sort of thing we need to do more of in the city.
  • Bank Street emptied quickly right before kick-off. There was no mad rush, honking or anything. All of a sudden, there just wasn’t anyone there. This would be a testament to the planning of OSEG.
  • Apparently, they ticketed 51 cars and towed 8. I only saw one person get a ticket, it was around 8:00 and she had popped into Kardish to pick up a few things.
  • There bike cops everywhere, seemingly.

Post-Game:

  • After the game, I quickly headed to a local bar. Lansdowne emptied relatively quickly, and for a brief while it got a little loud. Still, it wasn’t that bad. Really, it was about what you’d expect for a central neighbourhood during a special event.
  • Within about 20 to 40 minutes, everyone seemed to have left or arrived at their destination, as Bank became relatively empty again (though bars were quite busy).
  • The bike cops were still patrolling.
  • There was an ice cream truck that parked illegally (with some irritating music playing). The cops told him to move. He got huffy, but moved anyway… to another illegal spot. They made him move again and he seemed to just give up and leave.
  • I didn’t see a ton of trash on the streets. There was some, sure, but again, downtown event; what would you expect?

So that’s about it. It will be interesting to see what happens tomorrow. It’s a weekend, so that may altar travel patterns. It might rain, so that might put a damper on things. The biggest worry, though, is the parking situation. The city and OSEG admitted there was ample parking for the game, but, still, they want more for tomorrow. If enough people hear that and think it means oh, I can drive to this game, they’ll have screwed themselves and the neighbourhood.

This is why we can’t have nice streets

I’ve been meaning to write about the inaugural RedBlacks game at Lansdowne. As prep, I’ve been reading a number of different reports to try to get as complete a picture as I can. Reading this report in the Ottawa Citizen, I was just floored by this passage:

OSEG’s plan calls for 2,500 vehicles to park and walk, representing 6,200 “person trips.” Landry said while there were many cars parked around Lansdowne, there was lots of availability further north and east of Bank, as well as south of the stadium. That means the heavy no-parking restrictions the city introduced on various streets in the Glebe for Friday’s game might be relaxed in the future.

Greg Best, chair of the Glebe BIA, had similar findings. “I didn’t get the sense people were circling around trying to find spots,” he said. “I looked at Glebe, First, Second, I looked at them all. … The traffic wasn’t really an issue. I was surprised.”

This is just mindboggling. The traffic plan worked. The parking restrictions allowed for an easy flow of buses, bikes and pedestrians. People really listened to OSEG and left their cars at home. Some people drove and parked, but so few that even with a lot of parking restrictions there was still “lots of availability” for parking. Which mean, we don’t need more parking capacity!

There may be no better representation of the myopic idiocy of car-centric urban planning than to look at a successful transportation plan with ample excess parking and respond, “More parking!”

For what it’s worth, I tend to agree with the positive reports about transportation (speaking, at least, for the north side of Lansdowne), but part of what made the whole experience so great was the lack of parked cars (and drivers looking to park) gumming up the major streets, Bank and First.

Jack Astor’s and the Urban Vision

Yesterday, the Ottawa Citizen published an op-ed of mine offering measured support for the Lansdowne re-development project. I know it’s a controversial issue in Ottawa, but there was a bit of pushback that I really wasn’t expecting:

There are two points where I mention Jack Astor’s. Here:

Despite assurances of unique boutique retailers, we are getting Winners. And Jack Astor’s. And PetSmart. We are getting establishments that superficially play into the original vision, but demonstrate a lack of understanding of the connections between urban dwellers and their neighbourhood.

And here:

Lansdowne, as a residence, is being marketed as the newest hip urban experience. It aligns nicely with the compositions of the Glebe and Old Ottawa South, while still maintaining its own character — smaller dwellings, no single-family homes. This is not the Winners/Jack Astor’s crowd. The residential development is a good match for small boutique stores. Unfortunately, if the retail mix does not attract the local crowd, it will need a car-heavy commuter class to survive.

I responded noting that I wasn’t objecting to Jack Astor’s, per se, but that it is a part of the overall composition of food and retail stores going into Lansdowne, and that composition is a betrayal of the original plan put forth by OSEG and their partners J.C. Williams (in June of 2010, J.C. Williams claimed that OSEG claimed to have formal interest from many unique boutique retailers). However, my interlocutor was objecting to the specific inclusion of Jack Astor’s:

I’m still unconvinced. Jack Astor’s is a derivative corporate chain with a name that was originally just silly wordplay. It is akin to Boston Pizza, Montana’s and Outback. These are the big box stores of restaurants. Look at the current Ottawa location. The restaurant’s design, as well as the general form that the restaurant takes does not fit with the urban vision of Lansdowne.

We must remember that OSEG (and J.C. Williams) stressed that they were looking to complement the Glebe and Old Ottawa South. The vision of Jack Astor’s (either the Kanata location or their other locations) in no way complements these neighbourhoods. It clashes.

Of course, when talking about Lansdowne, we’re talkinga about a vision, a new urban village. Even if we don’t want to compare it to the long-established urban villages of the Glebe or Old Ottawa South, we could, at least, compare it to Ottawa’s newest hip urban neighbourhood, Hintonburg.

Can anyone reasonably argue that Hintonburg needs a Jack Astor’s, that the chain would, in any way, fit with the vibe of the neighbourhood? I can’t imagine taking any such argument seriously.

Further, I don’t have to make the claim that Jack Astor’s is commonplace in Ottawa. I’m not judging the project by my aesthetics, I’m judging them by the aesthetics laid out by OSEG and J.C. Williams. They’re the ones who said that they would get unique stores rather than chains, but that when they got chains, they would get ones that would then be unique to Ottawa and would fit with the overall concept. Jack Astor’s isn’t unique to Ottawa, even if it is not commonplace, and does not fit with the vision.

In the end, Jack Astor’s is a perfect fit for the types of stores that OSEG has found, stores like PharmaPlus, Winners, GoodLife, Sporting Life and Telus. These are all chains that better fit a suburban shopping model than a walkable urban village.

Perhaps Jack Astor’s will scale back their typical overbearing exterior and create something that will at least look like it fits with the Lansdowne vision. That would be nice. But there is no way to justify their inclusion with the purported vision. Lansdowne is walking a fine line. They’re a part of the Glebe, but trying to set themselves apart. If they go too far, we will see the waste of the land and the erosion of an existing comunity.

A Successful Test

Last week, OSEG had a test-run for RedBlacks fans and TD Place employees. They intent was to welcome the fans, tour the facilities and figure out just how the whole thing was going to work. It was, by all reports, a success. It is clear (and there was never much question) that Jeff Hunt and his cohorts know how to run a sports franchise. It was the development side of things, including transportation, that was a little more worrisome.

Thankfully, the transportation aspect seemed to go smoothly. I wound up on Bank Street at about 5:30 pm. It was noticeably busier–more drivers, more cars parked, more pedestrians–but everything was moving smoothly. Even on my bike, I was able to quickly merge with Bank Street traffic, change lanes and turn onto my street (which has no traffic light).

One interesting development is the effective reduction of Bank Street to one lane. On-street parking is prohibited from 3:30 to 5:30 in the afternoon, and it doesn’t usually fill up right at 5:30, but last week was different. With all the parking (which, note, won’t be available for Friday’s home opener), cars had to occupy the centre lane, exclusively. This meant that straight-through traffic had to co-exist with left-turners and those lost or hunting for a parking spot.

My takeaway from this is that it would not be much of a problem to reduce Bank Street to one lane, expand the sidewalks and add bike lanes.

This would also address the one real issue with the open house, pedestrian traffic. Bank Street sidewalks are too narrow for the current burden of foot traffic. RedBlacks fans will just make it all the more crowded. Complicating matters is that a lot of fans appear to have little idea as to how to walk down and share a busy urban sidewalk. I’ve often noticed that those who don’t walk very much demonstrate little awareness of the pedestrians around them, and this was reinforced last week. But if that’s the worst of the traffic problems, I’ll take it (and, perhaps, it will be a learning experience for a lot of our residents).

There is, of course, a big caveat to all of this. There were only about 10,000 fans in attendance (according to reports, which are likely to overstate things) and we are expecting 27,000 at Friday’s game. In addition, fans did not all arrive for the 6:00 pm opening; they trickled in for hours. This probably won’t be the case Friday. It could complicate things.