December 1, 2016 6:52 am
Updated: December 1, 2016 6:54 am

Edmonton’s Jasper Avenue to become more walkable, prioritize pedestrians

The west end of Jasper Avenue is getting a face-lift in 2019 that will see more pedestrian amenities.

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Edmonton residents got a first look Wednesday at a proposed redesign for the west end of Jasper Avenue that prioritizes pedestrian access.

One year ago, Edmontonians were asked how they would improve Jasper Avenue in the Oliver neighbourhood, between 109 Street and 124 Street. The feedback was mixed, according to Satya Gadidasu, a project manager for Imagine Jasper Avenue.

“Improve the pedestrian space, plant trees and, at the same time, maintain peak hour traffic — which is a competing use of space,” he explained.

With the population in Oliver expected to increase by 10,000 people in the next 20 to 30 years, city planners chose to make “walkability” a priority.

“The focus is — no matter what mode you choose to come downtown — once you come to the Jasper area you are treated as a pedestrian and given top priority.”

The proposed redesign includes more trees, pedestrian lighting and benches, along with a wider sidewalk.

There would also be a “flex space” for sidewalk cafes, food trucks or bike racks, and could change with the seasons or demand.

It’s an idea that interests Oliver resident Zack Gizowski.

“I think that’s definitely appealing,” he said. “Wider sidewalks and improved sidewalks too. Right now the condition of some of them is really not good right now.”

To make room for all these pedestrian amenities, the city is looking at removing an existing bus and parking lane.

The move would encourage drivers to slow down and add three to four minutes to their commute.

Downtown resident Al Mondor said he is worried about how drivers will react to losing the parking lane.

“It’s tough to get people to come downtown because there’s no parking for them. If they eliminate the parking on Jasper, that’s going to complicate it for getting people downtown.”

Mondor usually walks to get around downtown and said there’s another thing he hopes the city will address too.

“One thing that’s disappointing me is, I don’t see anything about crossing Jasper, making that easier. Because right now some of the lights are quite long,” he said.

All of the feedback from residents was collected at an open house at Oliver School Wednesday night.

“We want them to let us know that we got it right or how we can refine the plan for better improvements,” Gadidasu said.

If you missed the open house, you can also view the plans and weigh in online for the next two weeks.

© 2016 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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