Published on September 3, 2020
Canada's Capital Region - While summer is starting to wind down, the need for Capital residents and visitors to enjoy the outdoors while ensuring safe physical distancing remains important for both physical and mental well-being. The National Capital Commission (NCC) is pleased to announce how it plans to continue facilitating safe access to its many public assets, while respecting public health guidelines, for the post-Labour Day period, including details pertaining to the upcoming Fall Rhapsody program.
NCC parkway pilot projects
Since May, the NCC has opened up a number of its parkways exclusively for active use to ensure that the public has additional space to enjoy walking, running, cycling and other pursuits for outdoor well-being. These pilot projects have been an enormous success — allowing close to half a million individual visits over this spring and summer.
In light of the high number of users, the NCC has decided to extend its weekend parkway closures beyond the Labour Day weekend. Beginning Saturday, September 12, 2020, the following NCC parkways will be closed to motor vehicle traffic, and open for active use on weekends, from 8 am to 4 pm, until Sunday, September 27, 2020:
- Sir John A. Macdonald Parkway (between Carling Avenue and Booth Street)
- Sir George-Étienne Cartier Parkway (between the Aviation Parkway and St. Joseph Boulevard)
- Queen Elizabeth Driveway (between Laurier Avenue and Fifth Avenue)
To note, the Queen Elizabeth Driveway pilot project will transition from daily closures to vehicle traffic, to weekend-only closures to motor vehicles, mirroring the hours of the other weekend parkway closures. The NCC is grateful to its student employees who allowed us to conduct the daily closures throughout the summer, and wishes them well on their return to school.
We ask that all users — cyclists, joggers and pedestrians alike — help ensure everyone’s safety and enjoyment, and abide by basic safety rules such as keeping to the right and passing on the left, sounding a bell or calling out when passing, and staying alert. The NCC will ensure access for emergency vehicles when required. We also ask for motorists’ patience during the transitions between parkway uses.
Fall Rhapsody in Gatineau Park
The fall’s natural beauty can be enjoyed across the region. If you choose to visit the ever-popular Gatineau Park during Fall Rhapsody between September 26, 2020 and October 25, 2020 (including Thanksgiving Monday), note that its parkways will be open for active use until noon daily. Motor vehicle access will be available from noon until approximately 30 minutes after sunset, seven days a week. Be prepared for lineups or delays due to the Park’s limited vehicle capacity. We ask that all users share the road and be respectful of NCC teams during the transitions between uses.
In partnership with the Société de transport de l’Outaouais (STO), the NCC will again this year shuttle visitors into Gatineau Park from pickup locations in Gatineau and Ottawa on weekends between 9 am and 1 pm, and on Thanksgiving Monday. This free NCC shuttle will be adapted to adhere to public health recommendations, including physical distancing, limited seating capacity and the wearing of face masks.
Active users on weekend mornings and on Thanksgiving Monday are advised that they will be sharing the parkways with the shuttle buses.
Until the beginning of Fall Rhapsody on September 26, 2020, Gatineau Park parkways will continue the current pilot project schedule: parkways will remain open exclusively for active use Monday to Saturday and on Sunday mornings, and to motor vehicles from 1 pm until approximately 30 minutes after sunset on Sundays.
Fall Rhapsody in the Capital
This year, we invite everyone to avoid the crowds in Gatineau Park and instead enjoy the fall colours in other areas, for example, by taking a stroll down Confederation Boulevard for a scenic look at the Ottawa River. Other vantage points and family-friendly destinations include the Greenbelt’s vast, protected green space, showcasing a mosaic of landscapes, including farms, forests and wetlands.
Stay tuned! More information about the Fall Rhapsody program will be made available in due course on our website and via our social media channels.
“This global pandemic has created unprecedented challenges for people and organizations. It has also required creative solutions. I am very proud of NCC employees, who stepped up and demonstrated leadership by providing residents and visitors with access to additional local outdoor space for physical and mental well-being. With this extension of our pilot projects, my hope is that thousands more will be able to enjoy this space for safe physical distancing over the coming weeks.” — Tobi Nussbaum, Chief Executive Officer, National Capital Commission
“The STO is happy to be a partner of Fall Rhapsody. Again this year, visitors will have the opportunity to take the free shuttle into the heart of Gatineau Park. The fall colours await you, as does the STO. Thank you for your trust!” — Myriam Nadeau, Chair, Société de transport de l’Outaouais