City of Ottawa planners don’t like the baseball park at Coventry Road and the Vanier Parkway.
During failed negotiations to put an AA farm team of the Toronto Blue Jays in the stadium, planners told the bidders they’d rather tear down the park to erect more retail, residential or commercial development.
So when the city talks about the ballpark, remember that the planning department hopes the baseball team will fail. Simple as that.
Perhaps that explains why the parking lot for the stadium has been whittled down to almost nothing compared to the enormous lot in the early successful days of the Ottawa Lynx. What’s on much of the old parking lot now? Development. Now how did that happen?
The Lynx maintained that even if the small parking lot was full, it wasn’t big enough to hold fans attending their games who drive. The Lynx said the city strangled the team by taking away its parking. Seeing that the park sits right beside Highway 417, that sounds logical. And the Lynx are gone which is also convincing evidence.
Video above: The seventh-inning stretch at a Champions game.
Now Ottawa Champions president, Mayor Jim Watson friend and Order of Ottawa recipient David Gourlay has uttered the words that downtown communities fear … transit-oriented development.
TOD has been the excuse to try to put 16- and 14-storey highrises in two-storey residential neighbourhoods. Towers ridiculously far away from transit stations get great height exemptions but they are part of TOD. We await the first highrise in Greely that gets extra storeys because of TOD.
In principle TOD is a great idea. In practice, it’s a joke.
Granted Gourlay has a bridge across Highway 417 that ends at a light-rail station. But the Confederation Line is the train to nowhere. It ends at Tunney’s Pasture and Blair Road. Know anyone in Orleans, Barrhaven or Kanata who wants to take two bus transfers to get to the train to go to a ballgame?
No, they drive. The rush-hour traffic has cleared off Highway 417 by the early evening leaving suburbanites a straight-shot right to the stadium. But if there is anywhere near a good crowd, the little parking lot is can’t handle the cars. And game-day parking is limited on side streets. In other words, by developing large swathes of the baseball parking lot, the city strangled the Lynx and can do the same to the Champions if the attendance-challenged team draws many more fans to the game.
Gourlay hopes Montreal will get back into Major League Baseball so that Ottawa could get a farm club for the expansion team. But remember that the Montreal Expos had one of the best subway systems in the world stopping at their home park Olympic Stadium.
And where are the Expos now. Washington. They’re called the Nationals. Things didn’t work out.
Good luck with TOD, David Gourlay. If you walk through city hall, you’ll notice liquid on the floor. That’s saliva from the lips of planners waiting to get their hands on the baseball park if or when the Champions fail.
But look on the bright side. Ottawa might lose a baseball franchise but it could gain a Chuck E. Cheese franchise. And Watson could cut another ribbon.
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