Parklets and street furniture showcase Old Strathcona walkability

The Old Strathcona Business Association (OSBA) is announcing its plans for new placemaking infrastructure throughout the business district, as a recipient of the Canada Community Revitalization Fund (CCRF).

The OSBA will use $250,000 in funding to design and install custom-built benches, bike racks and parklets across Old Strathcona. Bike racks and benches will be installed by early fall and parklets will arrive in spring 2023.

“The CCRF will allow us to create a more welcoming, inclusive, and enhanced visitor experience in Old Strathcona,” said Cherie Klassen, Executive Director of the OSBA.

“Over the last two years, we’ve heard from Edmontonians that additional public space increases the enjoyment of their visit, which then has a positive impact on our economic recovery.”

As part of pandemic pivots, the OSBA expanded sidewalk space along Whyte Avenue in 2020 and 2021, increasing the space to move around Edmonton’s favourite main street. The temporary installations also provided more places to sit and talk, enjoy a summer treat, and enhance an already walkable shopping and dining district.

The project has great timing for another reason. 2023 is the 30th anniversary of the OSBA and this is the kind of work the organization has led since business owners officially created the business improvement area (BIA) in the early 90s. The types of street furniture and infrastructure have changed over the years, as have the needs of visitors to Old Strathcona, but investment in the neighbourhood remains an important role for the business association.

Thirdspace Design Group, local Edmonton company, will design and install the new street furniture and parklets. The company managed temporary installations in Old Strathcona the last two years, and painted the bright and colourful Rainbow Road mural, and was behind the design of The Backyard, an outdoor bar and venue downtown.

“We’re excited to be creating custom infrastructure solutions that will have a direct, tangible effect on vibrancy and active transportation in the Old Strathcona area,” said Amos Kajner-Nonnekes, Founding Partner of Thirdspace Design Group.

“With a design approach focused on the human experience, and a bit of creative energy, we can create places where people want to be and spend their time — and when people have a better experience, businesses in the area thrive.”

The new infrastructure will also serve to highlight the long-term needs of the Whyte Avenue corridor, as main street renewal approaches in the 2027-2030 budget. Public and business surveys from the last two years support increasing sidewalk and public space for people walking and shopping in Old Strathcona.

“We know that Edmontonians want our business district to be even more visitable and enjoyable to walk and shop. Our advocacy has already begun and we’re going to keep working on behalf of our member businesses and their customers to capitalize on a once-in-a-generation revitalization,” said Cherie Klassen.

Information about the OSBA’s pedestrian-focused infrastructure will be updated at our website as the project moves ahead. Opportunities for public feedback will also be posted online. oldstrathcona.ca/placemaking

This project is funded in part by the Canada Community Revitalization Fund (CCRF) and administered by Prairies Economic Development Canada.