May 3, 2014 7:37 pm

Group rallies to save central Edmonton footbridge from demolition

EDMONTON – A group of concerned residents rallied in central Edmonton Saturday, in hopes of saving an area footbridge from being torn out.

“We’re doing a ‘Jane’s Walk,’” said Kristine Kowalchuk with the Save Edmonton’s Downtown Footbridge organization, “in honour of Jane Jacobs who prevented a freeway from being built through Manhattan in New York City.”

The group is trying to save the pedestrian bridge that crosses the North Saskatchewan River from Louise McKinney Park to Cloverdale. The walkway will be taken out to make way for the Valley LRT Line to Mill Woods.

The pedestrian bridge that crosses the North Saskatchewan River from Louise McKinney Park to Cloverdale is slated to be removed to make way for the Valley LRT Line.

Shannon Greer, Global News

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A new pedestrian bridge will be built underneath the LRT bridge, but Kowalchuk says the walkway is about more than just getting from point A to point B.

“It’s not just a functional crossing, in fact, it’s a destination,” Kowalchuk said. “It’s a very popular place where many people of all ages, at all times of day spend time doing all kinds of activities.”

She and her supporters worry the tranquility of the footbridge will be lost with the hustle and bustle of the LRT line.

“The footbridge is, right now, the only non-vehicle corridor we have to cross in the central River Valley. It’s the only place where people can go and look out over the river and not have the noise of vehicle traffic.”

“So many people use this bridge,” added Eric Gormley, an Edmontonian who attended Saturday’s rally. “It’s a real nice space, it’s quiet, it’s peaceful. You see people jumping for joy on it, you see children running on it and looking over the edge into the water. So it’s a nice place to be.”

Ward 6 City Councillor Scott McKeen, who has met with the group, has previously stated that the issues raised are worthy of serious consideration. However, he said he will not be bringing the concerns to city council.

“I met with the group twice at City Hall and chatted with one of its champions during the fall election campaign. I also met twice with city officials and raised the group’s major concerns at a public meeting of City Council.

Then I weighed the information and chatted with my council colleagues.

Finally, I came to a conclusion: that I will not be raising this issue further with city council.”

Construction on the Valley Line isn’t scheduled to begin in 2016, so the Save Edmonton’s Downtown Footbridge group hopes they still have time to change the city’s decision.

“It doesn’t really make sense to take out green space and to take out the most heavily used active transportation corridor in the downtown river valley to put an LRT in,” Kowalchuk said. “Edmonton deserves better.”

*Editor’s note: Ward 6 Councillor Scott McKeen could not be reach Saturday for further comment.

With files from Shannon Greer, Global News. 

© Shaw Media, 2014

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