Plaza to Remain Closed to Vehicle Traffic

 At a morning press conference on City Square plaza (night view at left), Kelly Wyatt, director of development engineering at the city,  indicated that on Nov. 8 City Council would be considering a recommendation from the executive committee to keep the plaza a pedestrian-only space through the winter pending the outcome of a downtown transportation study that is supposed to be finished by June 1, 2012.

“The report will be going to council for their consideration on Tuesday,” says Wyatt. “We’re proposing maintaining this as a pedestrian only space over the winter and evaluating whether we want to introduce traffic into the space next year.”

 Originally, the plaza was designed to accommodate a low volume of traffic with a posted speed limit of 30 k.p.h. Since it opened to pedestrian traffic in August, says Wyatt, the city’s received anedotal feedback from the public about keeping the plaza vehicle free. “It’s come up as part of public discussion, and as we’ve looked at managing traffic in the space, but mostly as we’ve looked at ways to program the space and ensure that it’s active and well-used, we think there’s some real advantages [to not allowing vehicles on the plaza].

 “The original intent was that the space would be closed to traffic any time there was an event,” says Wyatt. “We were actually looking at 200 or more programming days a year, so there would have been a lot of days when it would have been closed to traffic. So the question arose if it was worth opening the plaza to traffic on the remaining days or should we try to program it full-time.”

If Council accepts the recommendation, you can probably look for the plaza to be the site of a skating rink this winter. Another confirmed event is a reception for the 25th anniversary Rick Hansen Man-in-Motion tour on Feb. 4.

The consultant for the $400,000 downtown transportation study will begin work next month. When asked if the city might look at interim measures to alleviate some of the traffic tie-ups in the downtown, such as perhaps restricting parking on 11th Ave. between Broad and Albert, Wyatt replied,  “If the consultant has any early recommendations that we can implement quickly to help alleviate the congestion and frustration we certainly will do so. But worst case is we’re looking at June 1.”

 Construction on the stage at Cornwall & 12th Ave. is to be finished in the next two weeks, Wyatt added. It will be available for community groups to use on a permit basis. A grand-opening for the plaza is set for next spring.

Author: Gregory Beatty

Greg Beatty is a crime-fighting shapeshifter who hatched from a mutagenic egg many decades ago. He likes sunny days, puppies and antique shoes. His favourite colour is not visible to your puny human eyes. He refuses to write a bio for this website and if that means Whitworth writes one for him, so be it.

16 thoughts on “Plaza to Remain Closed to Vehicle Traffic”

  1. 200 or more programming days per year? If that’s the case, then it should be permanently closed to traffic. I can picture any number of summer days with confused cars creeping slowly through crowds of pedestrians.

  2. One question I forgot to ask at the press conference was what plans the city has for the Scarth & 12th intersection. I think it’s likely that it will be open to traffic with cars allowed to turn east onto 12th

  3. Awesome. I’d found a group on Facebook proposing to keep traffic off it. The yellow line bumps would be ruined by snow plowing, and there were not enough barriers to keep malicious or negligent drivers out of Victoria Park to do donuts or hit trees, posts, or people.

    I’d be in favour of making it a city bus terminal if there was a shelter built for that purpose, otherwise keep it traffic free for people to enjoy the large walkable space connected to Scarth St. Mall.

  4. I like Gregory’s suggestion of leaving east turning traffic from Scarth, free to turn. The U turn must not be permanent at the end of Scarth St.

  5. What’s done is done. It would be too confusing to keep changing it back and forth and there would be plenty of accidents.

  6. Yeah, they NEED to open the Scarth and 12th intersection, even if it’s only for eastbound traffic. The idiots constantly parking, double-parking and just leaving their blinkers on in the middle of the street so they can wait for someone is making dropping off and picking my wife up from her job nigh on insufferable.

  7. It never, never made sense to mix pedestrian with vehicular traffic on the plaza, and if the area is closed to vehicles 200-plus days a year, each reopening and re-closing will be a “Groundhog Day” of confusion, error, and accident.
    It also never made sense to allow parking to continue on 11th between Albert and Broad.
    #5 & 6: agreed, except for the bus terminal suggestion.
    #4: if the implication is that the original study was a waste of $$, please note that many a plan changes in midstream, very often because of public input.

  8. I’ve been following the plaza development, from the beginning.

    For those worried about cars & pedestrians, there is an enormous amount of space on both the south and north sides of the plaza, outside of where cars are intended to be. The site was designed to support both cars and pedestrians with many “events” taking place on the “sidewalk” area on the north side, or the “plaza” space immediately adjacent Victoria Park.

    Obsessing about separating cars and pedestrians in a space like this is unfortunate. I’ve been to many places where cars & people mix, with little issue. Three examples from Ottawa are: all of “The Market”, Elgin St and Bank St on busy days.

  9. I remember some guy saying that on your Web site like 6 weeks ago. Maybe a month ago? In response to an Occupy story. Anyway, the surprises keep coming. It was obvious once those delicate light poles went up that kids would be pulling doughnuts on the slick winter brick and damage them.

  10. BTW, the plaza would work great as a one-way. This puts a lot of pressure on 11th! Avoid like the plague!!!

  11. I’ve always said: why do you NEED to drive down 12th?
    That said, I wonder if this might lead to the re-opening of Scarth Street to traffic.

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