Wednesday, January 21, 2009

When Obama comes to Ottawa, how will we get around?

Barack Obama, President of the United States, will make a visit to Canada's capital in the near future
The inauguration of Barack Obama as the United States' 44th president was no small event, and the attendance--estimated to be upwards of one million people, and possibly as high as two million--reflects that. It's interesting to note that, according to, many attendants to the inauguration ceremony took public transit to get to the historic event:
The Associated Press, through photographs and past crowd estimates, guessed that a million people descended on Washington for the inauguration of Barack Obama.

More than 930,000 of them got there using public transportation.
President Obama is likely close to, if not equally, as popular in Canada as he is in the United States. Prime Minister Stephen Harper, Leader of the Opposition Michael Ignatieff, and Governor General were all quick to congratulate Obama during his first official day as president. And Canada seems to be popular with Obama, as he's announced that his first foreign visit as president will be to the national capital of Canada, Ottawa. And, according to a CBC report quoting Foreign Affairs Minister Lawrence Cannon, that presidential visit is likely to be relatively soon:

Lawrence Cannon said despite the choice of George W. Bush to visit Mexico in his first official state visit, a historical precedent from John F. Kennedy onward suggests presidential visits to Canada have "always been quite close" to the inauguration date.

"The visits to Canada have been very closely aligned with the beginning of the mandate of the new president, so I think that the presumption that it will be sooner rather than later is bang on," Cannon said in an interview from Ottawa.

Obama has already pledged his first official trip abroad will be to Ottawa. Cannon said he did not have a confirmed date for the new president's visit, but officials from both sides of the border have been in touch.

"We expect that over the course of the next couple of days …we'll get a better sense of how this is going to work out," he said. "But we're pleased that he's coming to Canada first and foremost."

But with public transit nonexistent thanks to a 43-day-long (and counting) transit strike that seems no closer to resolution than ever, and warnings that it will take anywhere from three to six months for full service even when the issues are resolved and the transit system back in place, you have to wonder how the City of Ottawa will handle Canadians--and quite possible Americans from the Northeastern United States--flocking in to see the newest President of the United States of America.


Anonymous said...

Ottawa Citizen, November 30, 2004:

Yesterday, police said there will be temporary road closures along the route of President George W. Bush's motorcade today, with an as-yet undetermined route between Ottawa International Airport and the downtown core closed off for some time between 9 a.m. and 11 a.m.


The largest service disruptions to OC Transpo should take place after this morning's rush hour, said Eric Lefebvre, a spokesman for the public transit provider. Bus service along the Rideau-Wellington corridor, as well as buses running along Queen Street, will be moved to Albert and Slater streets, where Transitway buses ordinarily run.

Express bus service to Gatineau, which also uses the Rideau-Wellington corridor, will also be moved to Albert and Slater streets.

December 1, 2004:

The traffic chaos that many people had feared never materialized, despite the fact that streets in the downtown core were closed at 8 a.m. It appears many people chose to take public transportation, or to avoid their downtown offices altogether. Those who did drive said the commute was easier than on most days. City officials warn there may be problems early this morning as Mr. Bush leaves the city. The O-Train will not run between 7 a.m. and 8 a.m. today.

February 22, 1995:

But where Ottawa will really notice the visit is on its streets, because when Clinton moves, no one else will. This means streets will be closed temporarily, disrupting bus routes and traffic.

"We just hope our customers understand that because of the high security nature of this visit, there are going to be regular street closures when the president moves," says Oxana Sawka of OC Transpo.

February 23, 1995:

Ottawa-Carleton police are warning motorists to expect traffic delays and road closures today and Friday as a result of U.S. President Bill Clinton's state visit. At 10:30 a.m., the Airport Parkway, Queen Elizabeth Driveway, and Colonel By and Sussex drives will be closed for the presidential motorcade to Rideau Hall. From 1:30 to 2:45 p.m., Wellington Street from Elgin to Bank will be closed to pedestrians, cyclists and motorists. Police are asking westbound traffic to use Queen or Albert Streets, and eastbound to use Queen or Slater Streets. At 7 p.m., the Alexandria Bridge will be closed for 30 minutes. On Friday from 1 to 2:30 p.m., Wellington Street will once again be closed from Elgin to Bank, as will the Queen Elizabeth Driveway and Colonel By Drive.

Anonymous said...

re Ottawa Citizen, November 30, 2004:

"Yesterday, police said there will be temporary road closures along the route of President George W. Bush's motorcade today, with an as-yet undetermined route between Ottawa International Airport and the downtown core closed off for some time between 9 a.m. and 11 a.m."

They actually closed off Bronson/Airport Parkway at 6:45 am. I was on a bus headed to Carleton University when it pulled over. The driver said that he was going to Billings and that if we wanted to go to the campus, we would have to walk. This was just south of the bridge. It was snowing, raining and the whole route was lined with police. I counted at least 4 different forces.

I was also working downtown and the core was closed to traffic.

Anonymous said...

I'm embarassed in advance as a citizen of Ottawa and Canada. President Obama is going to show up in the capital city of Canada, see that we can't even manage a silly, little thing like public transit and think we're a country of incompetent, backwoods bumpkins. What a great first impression.
This is not how a capital city should behave.

Anonymous said...

your plans to use obama to slam the bus strike is obviously contrived. suck it up bitch the longest best strike in canada lasted 7 months and every major city in canada has had a bus strike around this size. think about the working conditions of others.

Anonymous said...

You're right. I am a bitch. But that doesn't change my argument in the slightest. And as for thinking about the working conditions of others... did you read the Citizen this morning? Did you feel anything for the poor woman who's walking 6 hours each way to work? Or the people who have lost their jobs because they're unable to find a way in?
Your own "contrived" attempt to make me look bad just backfired on you big time, asshole.
I don't care how long the "longest best strike" lasted (whatever that even means) and if you'll notice, I never even targeted the bus drivers in my post.
I've been trying to stay unbiased in this whole thing but you just convinced me to side with the City. Have fun being homeless in a few months jackass.