What’s next for 102 Avenue?

On Monday June 13, Council voted narrowly in favour of opening up a small portion of 102 Avenue to people as a pilot. This vote was embedded within a very busy and fraught week for Council regarding safety in the core of our City. We appreciate their time and thoughtful discussion on the matter. Going forward, there will be another vote to permanently open the street up and close it as a regular access point for vehicles.

What we clearly heard from Council today is that a vast majority of Councillors are interested in more ideas like these. For some though, this was not the right project at the right time. And that’s okay.

Today we celebrate Councillors Salvador, Stevenson, Knack, Wright, Paquette, Janz and Mayor Sohi for voting in favour of this creative reimagination of the space. And we thank these members of Council as well as Councillors Cartmell, Rice, Tang, Principe, and Rutherford for voting to move forward with directing administration to develop a more strategic plan around planning for more open streets in our Core.

Many comments and perspectives about 102 Avenue were shared over the past few weeks as Committee discussion and public debate ensued. Concerns from area landowners were raised about departing from the norm, from community organizations worried about programming requirements, and from Downtown residents concerned about how adequately the space would be used in the future.

What we want to stress going forward is that it will be important to address these concerns. Ultimately, we’re all taking a risk on seeing this space a little differently for at least a year. In approaching this risk, we want to work with others to ensure that we make this a space that can be successful for everyone.

We encourage all stakeholders and the City to see this as an opportunity to improve our Community’s capability of designing people-oriented spaces in a spontaneous way. We specifically will note that Council also received the Budget Outlook today. Newsflash, it was probably grim. This project is an important way to respond to what some will describe fiscal constraints the City will be facing.

We as a City need to become better at creatively reimagining space so that we can have more of these comparatively low-cost, high-impact solutions that enliven our City. The City’s response to COVID-19 with re-allocated roadways and expanded sidewalks was a great start. Now we keep that momentum rolling.