So, what’s it all about?
“Old Strathcona is a unique and vibrant area in Edmonton. It is a cultural hub, tourist destination, historical asset, business district, and an important transportation network in addition to being home to thousands of people. This area is expected to attract more residents as Edmonton grows to a population of 1.25 million. So how should our public spaces (parks, parking lots, plazas, alleys, and streets) adapt as a result?
The Old Strathcona Public Realm Strategy (OSPRS) will envision a new future for parks, plazas, parking lots, sidewalks, alleys and streets. A series of design ideas have been drafted that explore possible improvements.”
How does this align with the work we do?
Oh, in so many ways – let us tell you…
We are a Business Improvement Area (BIA), and that means we’re in the business of community economic development. We represent nearly 600 businesses within our boundaries and work on behalf of those businesses to take action on the strategic priorities determined by our board of directors which focus on:
- Beautification: Enhancing the look and feel of the district with flowers, lights, public art & more
- Safety: Developing partnerships and strategies that contribute to a more walkable, clean, and inclusive neighbourhood
- Marketing: Amplifying all of the amazing events, businesses, and festivals that take place in Old Strathcona
There is a lot that excites us about the OSPRS, especially the ideas that enhance Whyte Avenue as a main street destination and hub of social and economic activity. A public places plan of this scope is a once in 30 year opportunity that our organization has long been advocating for and will introduce a new way of experiencing our main street for decades to come.
Some of the big highlights are things like: wider sidewalks, reliable and convenient public transit, enhancing our alleyways so they can be active spaces for commercial and recreational activity, the creation of new green spaces or public plazas and shared streets that are safe and welcoming for a variety of users like pedestrians, cyclists, and drivers.
In summary, the OSPRS aligns with our strategic priorities in these areas:
- Activation of under used spaces
- Enhance sidewalks and streetscaping
- Increase walkability and pedestrian safety
- Enhance alleyways
- Usage of parking lots & CP lands
Learn more about why walkable streets are more economically productive.
Here’s a peek at just a few of those design ideas:
What about parking?
The proposed ideas shared in Phase 2 suggest some on-street parking could be removed to accommodate for other plan ideas like wider sidewalks and mass transit lanes for BRT (bus rapid transit). But rest assured, there will always be a need for parking in the area and while some of it might go away, there are opportunities to explore new parking management practices, like underground parking and wayfinding to encourage more efficient use of existing parking!
Each block on the Avenue will be considered in its own context when looking at the proposed changes. So some areas might be more conducive to the bioswale & rain garden example, while others need the pick-up/drop-off flex space with accessible parking options. All of these needs will be considered throughout this process.
We also know that as time goes on, travel habits are changing. In the survey conducted by the City of Edmonton during Phase 1, 68% of respondents indicated that reducing on street parking to add mass transit lanes would be very or somewhat acceptable (pg.15). It’s also encouraging to see that visitors are already getting to the area by walking (65%), cycling (50%), or taking public transit (48%).
Share Your Feedback!
It’s important that the City of Edmonton hear from people who live, work, and visit the Old Strathcona area. The ideas proposed in Phase 2 are based off of over 700 respondents to the Phase 1 public survey, summarized in this What We Heard Report.
We hope you’ll find time to share your thoughts and ideas with the project team during each engagement opportunity. Learn more about the project here
The Old Strathcona Public Realm Strategy is split into three phases:
- Phase 1: Background Analysis and Opportunities – Summer 2022
- Phase 2: Priorities and Draft Recommendations – Winter 2023
- Phase 3: Draft Public Realm Strategy – Summer 2023
Phase 2 of public engagement wrapped up on March 5, 2023. We anticipate that a Phase 2 What We Heard Report based on feedback collected will be available in Spring 2023. Stay tuned for updates and future opportunities to engage with the project team!