Queen Elizabeth Drive Traffic Closure – Mayor Prefers to Shut Down Colonel By Drive

While Mayor Mark Sutcliffe is firmly opposed to closing Queen Elizabeth Driveway to cars for active uses, no decision on future plans has been taken by the NCC, which owns the two Rideau Canal parkways. Photo by John Dance

While Mayor Mark Sutcliffe is firmly opposed to closing Queen Elizabeth Driveway to cars for active uses, no decision on future plans has been taken by the NCC, which owns the two Rideau Canal parkways. Photo by John Dance

John Dance

The debate rages on – should Queen Elizabeth Driveway (QED) be closed to cars to increase “active use,” or should it remain open to cars? Ottawa Mayor Mark Sutcliffe strongly supports the latter and now suggests that, rather than closing QED to cars, Colonel By Drive could be closed instead.

Over the summer, Mayor Sutcliffe campaigned against the closure of QED from Fifth Avenue to Pretoria Avenue, noting that the closure adversely affects access to Lansdowne Park, leads to congestion on Glebe streets, and results in delayed emergency response times.

“Colonel By Drive (CBD) would be a lot less problematic,” Sutcliffe said in a recent City News interview, a sentiment he had expressed in a CBC interview earlier in the summer.

Many residents of Old Ottawa East objected to the complete closure of CBD from Pretoria Bridge to Bank Street in the summer of 2021. And many objected to MP Yasir Naqvi’s proposal to make CBD an active-use-only route year-round. On the other hand, there were many supporters of the closure and the proposal, just as there are many supporters of the QED closure.

In response to the pandemic-driven need for residents to have more space for outdoor activity, the National Capital Commission (NCC), the owner of the two Canal parkways, closed the QED in the summer of 2020. The next year, CBD became the closed route, but in 2022 and this past year the Driveway was again devoted to active transportation for a 2.4 kilometre stretch.

This year, the NCC had proposed that the QED be used for pedestrians and cyclists between Preston Street and Somerset Street but, in light of opposition from the City and from the Ottawa Sports and Entertainment Group, the NCC decided to keep the Preston to Fifth Avenue section open for cars.

City Council’s Transportation Committee discussed the fate of the parkways at its late September meeting. Here, too, there were mixed positions. Some Councillors see the parkways as City “arterial roads,” while others support the NCC.

As reported by CBC News, Tobi Nussbaum, CEO of the NCC, noted that the City’s Official Plan calls on the NCC to “reimagine Queen Elizabeth Driveway and Colonel By Drive to reduce the roads’ importance as commuter routes in favour of pedestrian activity.”

Several “delegation” speakers at the Transportation Committee meeting strongly supported greater pedestrian and cyclist use of QED. Neil Saravanamuttoo of Parkways for People and also a Glebe resident noted that although initially the QED closure meant additional traffic within the Glebe, after eight weeks, traffic had returned to previous levels. Somerset Ward Councillor Ariel Troster, said, “What we are talking about here is how to get cars to Lansdowne.”

The NCC is currently conducting a survey on residents’ perspectives on the QED closure and active transportation use of its parkways. No decision has been taken on what closures there will be next year.

Filed in: Community Links, Front Page

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