Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Lansdowne Live - Long Live the Beige!

So, it's been nearly two years since any of us posted on this blog. I guess you'd say it's been dormant. Time to bring a sleeping dog to life, and it's all thanks to a project that seems bent on encouraging the beigeness of Ottawa for years to come. I'm talking, of course, about the Lansdowne Live proposal. It's a drive to ensure the continuing blandness of Lansdowne Park, a 10 hectare site at the southern tip of the Glebe, one of the central neighbourhoods in Ottawa. It's currently too poorly served by transit and too inaccessible to vehicles to be a reasonable site for a 28,000 seat stadium. That hasn't stopped them before from doing it, but that was in the 1960's, and I'd like to think we're much smarter today about urban planning.

I have therefore sent the following letter through the Let's Get it Right campaign. I urge you to do the same.

By the way, any suggestions on the letter? How would you improve on it? Did I get some things wrong?

Dear Councillors,

I strongly urge you to reject the Lansdowne Live project as it is currently constituted. I encourage you to redesign the process so that the whole site, and not just the lawn, is open to an international design competition, which will bring the best ideas to Ottawa for the redesign of this unique site. As well, this would enable joint funding of the site from other levels of government, which is a much fairer deal for Ottawa taxpayers.

I encourage you to reconsider the need for a sporting venue on the site, particularly for football, unless a transportation and site access plan has been developed. I would suggest that Ottawans are not guaranteed to embrace yet another football team (given the lack of success of the Renegades and the Roughriders, there is no guarantee of success at this site or for Canadian football in Ottawa). I would suggest that, if you feel there is an absolute necessity for a major outdoor sporting venue in the city, that you consider locating the facility along a major transit corridor (Lebreton Flats/Bayview would be a more logical location, as it is central and along a major public transit corridor).

The 2008 Transportation Master Plan shows Bank St. as a Transit Priority; however, there appears to be no plan other than a bus lane to ensure ease of access to the site. This will likely be an insufficient measure to move the number of people that would attend a match at the site in a time efficient, effective manner. I have travelled recently through Europe and witnessed cities smaller and less prosperous than Ottawa with far superior transit systems that are able to handle similar numbers of people with little difficulty.

I would suggest that there are other, better potential uses for the site. The ideas of making Lansdowne a pedestrian area save for the parking garage is attractive; I would encourage using this to create a pedestrian plaza that is rare in North America and currently non-existent in Ottawa (Sparks St. doesn't attract sufficient traffic and is quiet outside of normal business hours, and Byward Market isn't the model that it could be, though the potential to turn it into a pedestrian area exists); something that could be another highlight and attraction for a trip to Ottawa. However, I would again suggest that the design be opened to an international design competition. Ottawa doesn't need the same old; it needs fresh ideas that can allow it to grow into the world class city and world class capital it should rightfully be.