Tuesday, July 23, 2024

NCC ‘Summer Zone’ generates concerns over noise, parking

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An idea by the National Capital Commission to transform a portion of Queen Elizabeth Driveway into an area dedicated to “games and music” is being met with both excitement and cautious optimism by some Ottawa residents.

The NCC says Queen Elizabeth Driveway will be closed to vehicles between Somerset Street and Catherine Street through July and August, for its new “Summer Zone.”

While the exact details of what is being planned remains unclear, the NCC has said the Queen Elizabeth Driveway being car-free 24-hours a day will “allow the NCC to provide animation opportunities along this corridor, creating an ‘open street’ concept.

The NCC says the area will be split into three sections along the road, a “play” zone, a “nature” zone and a “cultural” zone, where live performances will be held.

“It’s wonderful for families of all ages to be able to take advantage of entertainment that we might not have gotten,” said area resident Victoria Mctaggart

The NCC has already been closing Queen Elizabeth Driveway to vehicles on Saturdays, Sundays and holidays between Somerset and Fifth Avenue since mid-May.

The only thing missing on Tuesday afternoon – the crowds.

The NCC hopes that will soon change by bringing in activities, live music and food to the Summer Zone, but some residents say they are worried the initiative could bring noise and traffic.

“I understand that they’re planning to put some band stand around here somewhere and we’re hoping that it would not be too close to some of the residential areas,” said area resident Kiran Rabheru.

The NCC says noise shouldn’t be an issue with performances taking place between 3 and 6 p.m. some weekends.

“We’re very cognizant of the noise and there will be some live performances but not throughout the seven days, not throughout the whole day.” said Bruce Devine, the senior manager of facilities and programs for the NCC in an interview.

Some residents also expressed worry over parking and traffic, already impacted by the closure of a section of the Queen Elizabeth Driveway on weekends.

“If people are coming from the suburbs to come in, and they should be, they’re paying the same taxes as the rest of us, then we’re going to get more traffic problems. And already we’ve got really reduced hours of parking in our area because we’re right downtown.” Mctaggart said.

The NCC says all live performances will respect all noise bylaws. Activities will take place from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m., but the section of Queen Elizabeth Driveway remains car-free 24 hours a day.

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