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Pimisi station will be open for Bluesfest, so at least there's that

Photo: O-Train Line 1 Pimisi Station. By Jean Gagnon, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons.

A lot of people were confused and annoyed on Canada Day with the situation at Pimisi Station. The station was open most of Canada Day, except people couldn’t really use it to get to celebrations at LeBreton Flats because the Booth Street bridge was closed (except for people with accessibility needs). Then from 8 to 10 p.m. there was no train service at all, and people had to use the relief buses. OC Transpo attributed all this to Ottawa Police and Canadian Heritage. All this was communicated ahead of time, but people found it confusing anyway. (Because it is!)

CTV Ottawa has a story now that says Ottawa Police didn’t think Pimisi Station was a good fit for the crowds:

"In a lengthy statement to CTV News Ottawa, Ottawa police said the decision to close Pimisi Station on the evening of July 1 ahead of the fireworks show was made in collaboration with Canadian Heritage, OC Transpo and a crowd management consultant, who police say raised concerns about overcrowding on Booth Street during last year's Canada Day events. "The current design of Pimisi Station does not facilitate the efficient handling of substantial crowds. Pimisi Station, which is situated on a lengthy bridge, is lacking with alternative escape routes for emergencies," the statement said."

This is a little tough to swallow. Why is Pimisi unable to handle crowds but Lyon Station can? From the police statement and the fact the bridge access was restricted all day, it sounds like the issue is more about the location of Pimisi and geometry of the surrounding area. Lots of people are hoping this isn’t going to be a problem if there ends up being an Ottawa Senators arena at LeBreton Flats.

Whatever the reason for the Canada Day debacle, at least you’ll be able to use Pimisi for Bluesfest.

Update July 6: The following is a statement from Ottawa Police and OC Transpo, issued yesterday:

"Ahead of major events, like Canada Day, the City of Ottawa and its partners establish an event planning team to ensure close collaboration among event partners, including OC Transpo, other City of Ottawa departments, and the Ottawa Police Service (OPS).

"The safety and security of residents and visitors is a top priority for the City. On Canada Day, Canadian Heritage, the City of Ottawa and OPS worked closely to ensure the event site and adjacent areas remained safe for eventgoers. The decision to temporarily close Pimisi Station to transit users from 8 pm to 10:05 pm was made to minimize lineups and manage overcrowding on and around Booth Street, not at the station itself.

"Bluesfest and Canada Day are very different events and require distinct event management strategies. Bluesfest is a ticketed event, with an expected number of attendees. Canada Day crowd numbers are unpredictable and can swell to more than 100,000 people.

"Pimisi Station is safe and will be fully operational for upcoming large events including Bluesfest. OC Transpo and OPS have been planning and preparing for Bluesfest and will be monitoring the event closely and will make adjustments as required to ensure the safe flow of people to and from the event site. Concertgoers can find information about their transit options for Bluesfest on OC Transpo’s website.

"The City of Ottawa, OPS, and other event partners are reviewing the event feedback and working collaboratively for future event planning."


Devyn Barrie

Devyn Barrie is the publisher and editor of OttawaStart.com. He currently studies math and physics at the University of Ottawa, and holds a diploma in journalism from Algonquin College.