This fact sheet produced by Isla Paterson, a concerned citizen, analyses the parking plans for the proposed Lansdowne Partnership Plan in a comparison with other shopping centres and sports facilities in the City of Ottawa.
FIVE UNPLEASANT FACTS ABOUT PARKING FOR THE LANSDOWNE SITE
Fact #1: Lansdowne has a serious parking deficit compared to other sport and cultural event facilities in the city.
At the community meeting of Dec. 1/11, citizens were told that 500 of the 1340 underground parking spots would be available to patrons who purchased an on-site parking pass in advance. All other event goers will have to walk, cycle, take the bus, or park elsewhere. No other event location in the city has such off-site event access assumptions in its business model. Successful city event locations have one parking space for every 1.67 to 4.47 seats.
The refurbished Lansdowne stadium will provide one (1) parking spot per 48 seats for expected crowds from 10,000 to 24,000. The renovated Civic Centre (arena) will have only one parking spot for every 20 seats compared the current one spot for 4.47 seats - a reduction of 75%.
According to the Ottawa Citizen (Feb 12/12), one of the primary obstacles to the Lynx baseball team's success (and the reason for the Lynx's $10.6M lawsuit against the city in 2006) was the failure to provide sufficient on- and off- site parking. In the press release of Oct 18/06, the Lynx's former owner stated: “The club ran into a major problem by frequently running out of parking. We had absolutely no idea how many people were turned off by that and never came back. The lack of space hurt the club's business model. The team needs one space for every three fans.”
Parking Availability at Larger Sports and Cultural Event Locations in the City
Fact # 2: Lansdowne has inadequate on-site parking compared to its retail competitors.
The 2010 J. C. Williams Group Retail Study assumed that ample parking including on-site parking in the retail area would be available for shoppers (p.16). The Lansdowne Park Plan announced on Feb 8th includes 1380 parking spots: 1340 underground and 40 on-site, above ground near the retail area.
Of the 1340 underground parking spots, 280 will be for residents, leaving 1060 paid parking spots for retail shoppers and cinema/restaurant/bar goers. On event days, 500 spaces will be for event goers, reducing the non-event parking to 560 spots. The 40 on-site above ground parking spots will be shared among Para Transpo, taxi stands and customer and office worker drop off/pick up. Compared to other retail shopping opportunities, Lansdowne is unattractive from a shopper's viewpoint. As well, Rideau, St Laurent and Bayshore shopping centres have announced expansion plans with increased on-site parking.
Parking Availability at Competitive Shopping Centers in the City
The Rideau Centre has 1,492 paid parking spots for 657,057 sq ft of commercial retail space on three levels, 3 theatre screens with a seating capacity of 1002 seats, and an eight-storey office tower of 45,961 sq ft. It is served by major bus routes including the Transitway, compared to Lansdowne which is served by only 2 routes.
The J. C. Williams Group Retail Study assumes that the Lansdowne retail will be attractive to everyone living in the National Capital Region. Given the site's limited parking and transit access, it is unlikely that many of the 450,000 households in the National Capital Region (estimated population of 1.150 million) will regularly attend movies or shop at the revitalized Lansdowne site. The site's main customers will be the 4,456 households (population 10,029) of the Glebe and the 2,420 households (population 5,975) of Old Ottawa South who currently patronize the cinema, grocery stores, restaurants and bars in the neighborhood. This is an insufficient population base to maintain a viable shopping and cinema complex.
Fact # 3: The Lansdowne Plan is a major exception to the City's normal minimum parking by-laws.
In October 2010, the City Council amended the zoning by-law applied to the Lansdowne site adding commercial and residential uses to accommodate the Lansdowne Partnership Plan. Concurrent with the zoning amendment, the City decided that the usual parking by-laws applicable to all other properties in the city did not apply at the Lansdowne site, requiring instead that a minimum of 1200 spaces be provided in an underground parking garage.
In the Feb 8th Plan, a total of 1380 parking spots are provided for: 1340 in the underground parking garage and 40 on the surface in the mixed use area. Of these 1340 underground spots, 280 have been assigned to residents, leaving 1060 unassigned spots to be shared among all other site users for day-to-day activities, reduced by 500 spots on major event days. If no exception had been made for the Lansdowne site, and the City's normal zoning by-law requirements were in force, there would be a deficit of 6,090 parking spots (82%). This is likely the minimum deficit as estimates of parking requirements for the urban park have not been included.
Lansdowne in Relation to the City's Normal Minimum Parking Requirements
Source: City of Ottawa Zoning By-Law 2008-250 Consolidation, Part 4 - (Section 101,102)
Fact # 4: The June 2010 Parking Survey has serious errors, resulting in a overestimation of parking surplus in the surrounding communities.
The June 2010 McCormick Rankin Transportation Impact and Assessment Study determined that there were 5,360 parking spaces in the residential and commercial areas bounded by Main Street, Catherine Street, Riverside Drive and Bronson Avenue including the area in the triangle enclosed by Bronson Avenue, Queen Elizabeth Drive and Carling Avenue. Using four spot parking surveys conducted in 2009, it estimated that there are 2,750-3,000 surplus parking spots in the area that can be used by event/urban park patrons and shoppers at the Lansdowne site.
The study has four serious methodological errors:
i) The surveys did not take into consideration how many of the existing 5,360 spaces were assigned to residents with parking permits guaranteed for 24/7 use. Such permits should have been excluded from “parking surplus” calculations, but were not.
ii) The 2009 surveys did not break down the supply of parking spaces and their use by on-street parking restrictions, which are a maximum of one, two and three hours. The Consultant's calculation assumed that all surplus spots were available for an unlimited time period.
iii) Drivers prefer to drive and park as close as possible to the event location. The June 2010 report stated that in the streets nearest to Lansdowne site, the parking use was “at capacity or close to it” (p 46). On any day, there are likely surplus parking spots in the studied area, but they are not a comfortable walking distance (1 km-20 minutes) from the Lansdowne site. Is it realistic for the City to assume that event-goers/visitors will park their cars at Preston and Carling to attend an event or go shopping at Lansdowne?
iv) The parking surveys were completed in 2009. In the past three years, the Glebe and Old Ottawa South have been undergoing intensification, thus further reducing parking availability. There was no provision for this in the parking surplus estimates.
Fact # 5: Event patrons are not likely to be shoppers or cinema goers.
OSEG and the City of Ottawa partners are planning a minimum of one large event (10,000+ people) every two weeks and over 90 events of 5,000 + participants annually. The City assumes that mixed use at the site presents an ideal opportunity to have a common shared parking pool thanks to different use peaking characteristics. However this is not necessarily true.
Entertainment events will coincide with peak shopping hours (week nights, Saturdays and Sundays) thereby discouraging customers from shopping or attending the cinema during events. During these events, there will be minimal if any shopping at the site, because of the difficult street access and the reduced number of parking spaces. This will make it difficult for businesses to attract and develop loyal, regular customers, as they will not likely shop or attend the cinema before or after the entertainment events. Neither will people likely carry out their food shopping before or after the event.
My Conclusion: The underground parking garage is too small to be a good investment. The report to City Council of June 9, 2010 (p 97) and the business model facts show that the estimated total cost of the underground parking is $35M, of which OSEG will pay $11.9M (34%) and the City/taxpayers $23.1M (66%). What is the point of spending $23.1M to end up with an investment that is inadequate the day it opens?
The parking and traffic issues are serious, in terms of the business success (or not) of the proposed new Lansdowne site. In my view, it is not in the best interest of city taxpayers or the (OSEG) developers to have a site with inadequate parking as it will place at risk the required sustainable revenue into the waterfall.