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Mayor, OC Transpo pleased with Pimisi Station during Bluesfest

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Ottawa Mayor Mark Sutcliffe and OC Transpo say they've been pleased to see that there have been no significant issues at Pimisi Station after it was restricted on Canada Day for what authorities said were safety concerns.

Throughout Canada Day, access to Pimisi Station was limited at the behest of Ottawa police and Canadian Heritage officials. When asked why, Ottawa police said in a statement that the current design of Pimisi Station "does not facilitate the efficient handling of substantial crowds," adding that there are insufficient exits in the event of emergencies.

The station has a single platform to serve eastbound and westbound trains, and straddles the Booth Street Bridge. The upper floor, where bus travellers and pedestrians access the station, is small. Police said there was a medical issue on Canada Day in 2022 and that first responders were stymied by the station's design and the crowds.

Shania Twain attracted a record crowd of around 30,000 people to LeBreton Flats last Thursday, and OC Transpo encouraged attendees to make use of the nearby Pimisi Station, which was kept open both before and after the show.

CTV News Ottawa asked OC Transpo for approximate numbers of transit riders leaving LeBreton Flats via Pimisi Station on Friday. In a reply Tuesday, a statement attributed to Raouia Howarth, the city's acting director of transit customer systems and planning, said OC Transpo is pleased with how its service plan is operating during the festival.

"On the evening of Thursday, July 6, 11,700 attendees used Pimisi Station while travelling to Bluesfest," Howarth said.

More than 13,000 people used Pimisi Station when leaving the show, Howarth said, but overflow buses for westbound travellers were still required.

"When exiting the event, 9,000 customers used Pimisi Station and another 4,400 customers travelled westbound via bus," Howarth said.

Ottawa police told CTV News Ottawa over the weekend there were no significant events to report at Pimisi Station that night.

Speaking on Newstalk 580 CFRA's Ottawa at Work with Patricia Boal on Tuesday, Sutcliffe said he believed Pimisi was handling the crowds well.

"I think it's probably better than it might have been portrayed when the story came out after Canada Day about concerns about the volume and what it can handle. I suspect it can probably handle more than people thought," he said.

He wouldn't comment on whether there was a flaw in the design of the station, but said he was open to improvements.

"I know there are discussions happening internally about what potential adjustments or improvements can be made to the station," he said. "We've got to make sure the system can handle a lot of traffic around major events and the evidence seems to suggest that it can."

Bluesfest continues until Sunday. Headline acts this week include Foo Fighters, Mumford and Sons, Charlotte Cardin and Pitbull. 

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