Five Edmonton organizations are collaborating on a revitalization proposal to make parts of downtown more accessible for pedestrians and cyclists.
The Downtown Pedestrianization Plan outlines nine actions the groups say would improve the downtown experience.
“We centred our work around the big question: how do we create safe, accessible spaces that support everyone in our core?” Urban Development Institute Edmonton Metro’s Jason Syvixay said.
Some of the actions include expanding sidewalk width, targeting retail areas with shared and open streets, greater access to transit entrances, installing additional cycling infrastructure, and adding amenities such as patios, benches and green space.
They’re keeping an eye on roadways such as 105 Avenue, 90 Street, 100 Street, 104 Street, 108 Street, and 109 Street as locations of interest.
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The project stemmed from debates over the re-development of 102 Avenue where four lanes of vehicular traffic were converted to a one-way road to make room for an LRT and bike lanes.
“We realized we have an opportunity to think bigger than 102 Avenue and to think through new options for our downtown,” Syvixay said.
Paths for People’s Stephen Raitz said temporary road closures during summer street festivals are a great example but there are navigation challenges.
He hopes their downtown pedestrianization plan can act as a framework.
“Setting up a larger plan for stitching together some of the cool destinations we have with potentially either shared or open streets throughout the core to tie things together. But doing that in a more strategic and thoughtful sense,” Raitz explained.
Syvixay said the city is already on track with meeting some of the actions listed in their plan, but said the work has been narrow in scope and scale.
Syvixay added there are no transparent metrics for the city to evaluate success rates.
“We want to know how well are we doing with these actions. That report card, that transparent information, that’s critical for us,” he explained.
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According to the group, not only is it a plan to attract more people to the area, but an effort to boost business revenue.
Downtown Business Association’s Puneeta McBryan said a move to transition more downtown streets into pedestrian-friendly walkways will attract more businesses to operate in the core.
“Initiatives like this are exactly how we get to a downtown that is full of retailers and more businesses,” McBryan said.
“If you’re a destination where people are driving and parking, that’s what South Common is for. That’s what West Edmonton Mall is for. A downtown only works when there are lots of people both living, working, visiting, and walking around. And that’s what attracts businesses,” she explained.
The Downtown Pedestrianization Plan will be presented to city hall for an upcoming Urban Council and Planning Committee meeting in December.
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