Bump in the ice
By Jordan Press
Local News - Saturday, September 09, 2006 @ 07:00
Visitors who drive to the new downtown arena should expect a maximum 10-minute walk from their parking spot to the front door, consultants suggest.
The traffic study was one of two reports that caused the city’s planning committee to delay approving a site plan for the new arena for another two weeks.
“I wouldn’t have any major current concerns unless it’s not approved at the next meeting,” said commissioner of growth Cynthia Beach, who oversees the arena construction. “It’s an aggressive schedule and we don’t want to let it slide.”
The parking report suggests 1,505 parking spaces are needed for a 5,000-patron event. Those spaces should be within a 10-minute walk of the $41-million-plus arena, the report said.
Having off-site parking would prevent a situation in which everyone files out of one lot at once, said Russell Brownlee, an IBI Group consultant.
“You need to walk a bit, but it’s a blessing in disguise,” Brownlee said.
The planning committee meets again on Sept. 21. The site plan they are working with has to be approved before the building can be built.
Politicians on the committee wanted more time to review recently submitted documents because of the public interest the project has drawn.
“We have the responsibility to touch all the bases,” said Councillor Floyd Patterson. “We should go the whole nine yards and get all the answers.”
If the project were again delayed, Beach said it could affect its timelines.
Foundation work is scheduled to begin the week of Sept. 25, Beach said. The arena is scheduled to open by December of next year.
Committee members were also concerned about loud mechanical and electrical equipment as well as rock concerts in the building.
Electrical equipment would be on the southwest corner of the centre’s roof in a well designed to dampen noise. The study showed some items would create noise beyond the Ministry of the Environment’s limits.
The same was true of the mechanical equipment that consisted mainly of exhaust fans.
EllisDon project manager Patrick Thompson said there could be changes to the arena’s equipment and design as well as changes to materials to baffle any high-decibel sounds emanating from concerts.
Politicians and members of the public also had questions about accessibility to the arena.
A depressed curb near the corner of Place d’Armes and Ontario Street was one spot EllisDon planned as a drop-off spot.
Beach said yesterday the city could do something for disabled parking or a drop-off spot on the south side of Barrack Street on vacant city land.
A few councillors felt the issue didn’t need to come back to the committee in two weeks.
“I don’t see any issues, except for accessibility ... that should hold this up,” said Councillor George Sutherland.
Unless there’s a large concern, there was no reason city staff couldn’t handle the final details, he said.
The committee chairman had the same thoughts.
“I don’t know how much more we will know and understand technically,” said Councillor George Stoparczyk. “This is an ongoing process that can be done at the same time other work is going on.”