Let’s make 102 Avenue a Place for People

At the Monday, November 22 Council Meeting, Councillor Stevenson gave notice of the following motion

that Administration explore the opportunity to pedestrianize 102 Ave adjacent to Valley Line LRT and return to Urban Planning Committee with options for consideration

This is an important first step forward on a great idea that could come to fruition in the near future.

The Valley Line Southeast will open in early 2022 and Edmontonians are excited! This is a transformative project that will greatly support people-oriented transportation across our City.

The core of the Valley line, from 99 Street to 103 Street, is where we will see the greatest amount of active use. However, according to current plans, a single lane for vehicle traffic will cut between the LRT line and sidewalk.

Potential plans for 102 Ave, rendered by Chris Nelson (@newfangl3d on Twitter)
Current plans for 102 Ave, rendered by Chris Nelson (@newfangl3d on Twitter)

Community Members have recently flagged a simple, but powerful idea that would truly help us unleash the potential of this new public transit line. To really amplify the utilization of this space, we can turn this car-space into a people-oriented plaza. The idea took off like wildfire last week on Twitter.

Edmontonians are excited about this idea’s potential to  support users of the LRT, businesses along the corridor, and the overarching vision we have for a walkable, people-friendly downtown.

Our core is changing!

We’ve advocated and worked alongside organizations like the Downtown Business Association and Downtown Edmonton Community League for years to push for a more people-centred public realm in our core. Much has changed over the decade since the original plans were developed for the Valley Line. We have:

  • Built a Downtown Bike Network.
  • Declared a state of Climate Emergency.
  • Permitted e-scooters and e-bike sharing companies.
  • Expanded sidewalks in response to COVID-19 Public Health Measures.

Making 102 Avenue a place for people first is a great way to continue this work in a substantive way. Ideas like this, which are low-cost and high-impact, are especially valuable as we had a particularly difficult budget for 2021-2022. Council needs to be strategic and innovative in how we invest in and build infrastructure. Finding a way to open 102 Avenue up to people is a great way to turn something out of nothing.

Something from nothing

Current plans for 102 Ave, rendered by Chris Nelson (@newfangl3d on Twitter)
Potential plans for 102 Ave, rendered by Chris Nelson (@newfangl3d on Twitter)

This 500 metre stretch of road will provide little utility for people driving, but could be a centrepiece of a vibrant downtown core. When Council is faced with difficult municipal budget decisions, this idea provides our Downtown with a low-cost and high-impact way to provide vibrant, community spaces.

It will be important for community partners like the Downtown Edmonton Community League, Downtown Business Association, Edmonton Public Library, and various theatres, venues, and businesses in the area to ensure that this people-oriented space is a fun, safe, vibrant place to be 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.

We are excited to see the Notice of Motion made by Councillor Stevenson. Our understanding is that this Motion will be made in the near future and Council will vote on whether they will provide Administration with the direction to explore options to pedestrianize 102 Ave. If Council does vote in favour of directing Administration to explore this idea, then Council will share what options are possible for pedestrianization along 102 Avenue. It will be vital to continue supporting this project, pushing the City of Edmonton and community stakeholders to find ways to say yes to this transformative, low-cost and high-impact idea.

For a fuller analysis of this idea, please review this document that more deeply explores the history, transportation context, and precedents.

Link here.