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Should the Queen Elizabeth Driveway reopen for cars? The Mayor thinks so


Ottawa's mayor and some residents in Centretown are calling for the National Capital Commission to reopen Queen Elizabeth Driveway to cars, especially during the week, because of traffic nightmares.

Judy Snider lives nearby and says anytime she goes anywhere it is difficult to find a route that navigates around the closure. “My expression is you can get there from here!”

Snider says she has stopped making appointments during the week. “During the day, you can get anywhere out of the neighbourhood easily, and at rush hour you have taken the traffic off Queen Elizabeth Drive, but you have pushed it onto Elgin which is chock-a-block, bumper-to-bumper, to get out of the neighbourhood.”

The NCC has reserved the Queen Elizabeth Driveway for active use between Fifth Avenue and Somerset Street from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m., seven days a week during the summer. Its website says there is more than 100,000 visits a year during the Queen Elizabeth Driveway active Use Program since its launch in 2020.

Some residents say there are too many roads closed for cars, referencing other NCC parkways that are also blocked off to cars on weekends. Leslie Brull lives in the Glebe and says, “I live nearby and I am quite observant, and Monday to Friday I just don’t think it is necessary- weekend it gets much better use.”

The driveway will be open for cars this weekend because of the construction that will close part of Highway 417 as well as events at TD Place including rugby, soccer and football.

Mayor Mark Sutcliffe says he thinks there are too many roads closed in the city.

“I don’t support any plan to permanently close Queen Elizabeth Drive to vehicles, I don’t support anything that would close it on major events days, like when the Redblacks play,” he told reporters Wednesday after city council.

“I would like to see it open more often than what the NCC is proposing because it has huge traffic impacts. By my observations, I am not sure how necessary it is; there are great pathways on both sides of the canal.”

Sutcliffe also says it is having an impact on tourism, as tourist buses have to go on side streets. He says he has raised these concerns with the NCC board of directors. Sutcliffe has a seat at the table, but he is a non-voting member. “I have raised it with the NCC and I think they know where I stand on that.”

In a statement to CTV News Ottawa, the NCC says they are “proud to provide safe, accessible, and unique active use experiences throughout the capital. Our active use program on Queen Elizabeth Drive helps alleviate the pressure on the capital pathway network, which is used to capacity during the summer.”

The statement says that active use programs like this take place “on roadways that were always intended to serve as scenic routes, not commuter roadways.”

The program has had nearly 50,000 visits since May. The results of the active use survey will released in the near future, and the NCC says it will “help inform future iterations of our active use initiatives.”

Some residents says there should be more roads open for active use, not fewer. Avery Walker runs often on the road. “I like it a lot! It is really good that the canal is open for people who want to bike, run and walk.”

Gina Grottoli takes her bike along the canal. She says, “We use it often, we invite friends to come and use it with us during the week I can't say enough about it, I am so glad it is open.

Richard Jobert says, “It is the new reality in our world, with all the environment issues, we need more and more and more bike paths and roads that are pedestrian only. Make it easy for people to park their cars.”

As for Snider, she hopes the NCC rethinks the future of the road, and traffic can flow again. She says, “I think it is a great idea on weekend, it is the same as the other parkways that close. It is no longer the pandemic; people are able to move about freely, we don’t need the space.” Top Stories

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