More room to explore and enjoy Whyte Avenue

We’re excited to announce the return of expanded sidewalk space in Old Strathcona.

Brightly painted barriers separate vehicle lanes from pedestrian space on 102 Street

Just like last year, the expansions return to Whyte Ave. between 103 and 105 Streets. New this year is that we’re expanding the sidewalks on both sides of the Ave. and also on 102 and 105 Streets at the Roots on Whyte and Raymond Block buildings, respectively. The added pedestrian space comes just as Alberta’s latest Covid re-opening plan begins and Whyte Avenue will definitely be one of the busiest areas in Edmonton.

“There was overwhelming support to bring back expanded pedestrian spaces this year,” said Cherie Klassen, executive director of the OSBA.

Surveys of the public and adjacent businesses about the 2020 expansion supported increasing the space for pedestrians again this summer, with nearly 100% of public respondents looking forward to the return.

“The additional sidewalk spaces help create a welcoming area for patrons, while supporting safe physical distancing which remains crucial for our community. Safety is our number one priority for everyone visiting and working in Old Strathcona and this increased space allows that,” said Klassen.

“We’re excited to see the expanded sidewalks,” said Roberta Taylor, manager of Village Goods.

“Last year, the parking and vehicle lanes provided a great way to avoid overcrowding and for pedestrians to walk safely-distanced. We love seeing people, and with nowhere safe to walk, we do know that crowding has kept some of our regular shoppers away from the area. The OSBA’s plan does a great job working within difficult constraints by providing a place for folks to enjoy treats and visit.”

The OSBA is again working with Thirdspace Design Group to enhance the public spaces and make them more user-friendly. Painted water barriers and flower barrels will separate people walking from those driving, with placemaking elements added throughout. Watch for additions to the space through June.

Thirdspace did similar work for the 2020 expanded pedestrian space, and also painted the popular Rainbow Road in Spur Line Alley.

Hexagons in colours of the rainbow stretch down an alley

“We had to get creative to add seating and placemaking elements with a narrow parking lane,” said founding partner Amos Kajner-Nonnekes.

“That’s where we came up with the idea of hanging seats and tables from the barriers themselves. We know that people on Whyte want to be able to sit and talk, or Instagram their ice cream, and this design allows for enjoyment of the street while also providing additional space to move around.”

Thirdspace also built new accessibility ramps to be installed at both ends of each space. Improving accessibility was the most important change for this year, and the ramps will allow everyone to move more easily between upper and lower sidewalks.

“We heard from restaurants located near the 2020 expansions that the additional space helped them serve more customers during last summer’s re-opening,” said Klassen. “We’re hoping this year’s expansion creates a safe and successful re-opening for even more businesses in Old Strathcona.”

Design proposal of sidewalk expansion shows a man in a wheelchair on an accessible ramp, a woman with a coffee sitting on a hanging bench, and other people walking around the space.

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Please follow all public health guidelines when visiting Old Strathcona. We encourage you to plan ahead for your visit.

The OSBA gratefully acknowledges support for this project is in part funded by the Edmonton Economic Recovery Grant from the City of Edmonton.