Edmonton’s only entertainment district launches along Rice Howard Way

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Edmonton launches entertainment district along Rice Howard Way
Edmontonians can now stroll down Rice Howard Way jamming to music, playing games and even enjoying a boozy beverage in public. It's all part of the city's plan to entice people to spend more time downtown. Kabi Moulitharan reports – Jun 2, 2024

Edmontonians will be able to stroll down a portion of Rice Howard Way this summer to enjoy some live entertainment, games and even a boozy beverage.

The City of Edmonton has partnered with the Downtown Business Association to create a block-long street patio, forming the city’s first-ever entertainment district.

It’s all part of a pilot project in partnership with the city and the association to entice people to spend more time in the downtown core.

“Every downtown and major north american urban centre has been impacted by the pandemic, work from home, or other changes that have happened in society,” said Edmonton Mayor Amarjeet Sohi on Saturday.

“We’re not seeing the sort of vibrancy we used to see before COVID.”

City staff said the all-ages district looks to improve the vibrancy downtown, increase foot traffic and boost businesses.

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Until the end of August, Rice Howard Way will be closed to vehicles from 100th Street to 101st Street starting at 7 a.m. on Saturdays until 10 a.m. on Sundays, allowing pedestrians to walk freely along the block.

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Vehicle traffic will still be allowed on 100A Street.

Food and alcohol from participating businesses, such as Rosewood Foods and Sherlock Holmes Pub, can be purchased and consumed within the District’s boundaries.

There are also plans to host live music, games and movie nights outdoors.

Kicking off with this year’s Downtown Spark Block Party, a variety of local programming and entertainment will take place every week, including performances and art installations.

Puneeta McBryan, executive director of the Downtown Business Association, said most summer events in the city would have to set up a beer tent, fenced off, or would be limited in alcohol vendors.

“We didn’t have to do any of that,” she said.

“All of the restaurants and the bars on the street get the revenue from people that are here to have some drinks. It’s a total game-changer. It’s a totally different experience.”

The city said costs to get the area ready for the summer came from the downtown vibrancy fund.

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Looking ahead, the entertainment district is expected to help city staff shape what similar areas could look like across the city.

The city and the Edmonton Downtown Business Association said this pilot project is part of ongoing efforts to revitalize downtown. Kabi Moulitharan / Global News

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