by Leo Valiquette
The bridge is part of a larger effort to determine what can be done with Ottawa’s baseball stadium, which currently is being leased by the Ottawa Stadium Group, owner of the Fat Cats. Public consultations on how the site could be redeveloped into a mixed-use area will commence this fall.
Regardless of how the site will be developed, a footbridge connecting the transit station on the far side of the highway has been deemed a key element by the city to make the area more transit- and pedestrian-friendly.
An environmental study report approved by council in March recommended the construction of a footbridge on the grounds that it will provide "social, cultural and environmental value to the city."
Even though the city has yet to decide what do to with the stadium site, it wants to move ahead with the footbridge now despite calls for more public consultation. Doing so, officials said, will save money as the footbridge could be built in tandem with a planned provincial expansion of nearby Highway 417.
"The more you can have co-ordination, the better," said Kanata North Coun. Marianne Wilkinson, who is also chair of the transportation committee.
"But a large part of why the bridge is needed has nothing to do with the stadium."
Instead, she said, it is about serving those residents who already live and work in the area and supporting the city’s transit plans.
The triple-A Ottawa Lynx were the first users of the stadium in 1992, until they left the city in 2008 due to poor attendance. The Ottawa Rapidz then used the stadium for one season until they folded.
In December 2009, city staff began searching for "best offers to lease" the stadium. The Ottawa Stadium Group was the sole bidder for that lease, which it was awarded in March 2010. Its lease expires no later than October 2012.