City Market Downtown ponders future location during LRT construction

WATCH ABOVE: With the looming LRT expansion, changes could be coming the City Market Downtown. Eric Szeto explains.

EDMONTON – It draws thousands of people to Edmonton’s core every Saturday, and now the City Market Downtown is pondering its future in its current location. Soon enough, the popular downtown attraction will be forced to make way for construction of the Valley Line LRT.

Right now, the pedestrian-friendly market lines 104 Street from 102 Avenue south to Jasper Avenue. Vendors are also set up along 102 Avenue from 103 Street to 105 Street. Once built, the Valley Line LRT will run right alongside the downtown market on 102 Avenue, and the construction footprint will take up even more space.

A construction schedule has not yet been established, but it’s believed work on the line will begin in 2016.

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Dan Young, chair of the Downtown Farmers Market Association, says that while they don’t have any concrete plans in place right now, they do have a few options to move the market to make way for LRT construction.

“We have an option to go a little bit north still on 104 as we did originally. But a little bit more exciting, we also have south of Jasper on 104 Street,” Young explains.

Another alternative the market is considering is to essentially flip the vendors who line 102 Avenue onto Jasper Avenue.

“It would just be the exact same footprint, only it’s on Jasper,” says Young.

READ MORE: City Market Downtown world’s best farmers market: National Geographic blogger

Area councillor Scott McKeen says the LRT project is still in search of a contractor and the city hasn’t yet discussed the construction details. However, he says the relocation of the City Market Downtown won’t be taken lightly.

“It’s not something that we want to ignore or be callous about at all,” he says.

READ MORE: Harper government provides more Edmonton LRT funding

To McKeen, the market is an important fixture downtown, referring to it as a weekly one-day festival. He says the city will work with the market and the Transportation Department to ensure both can coexist.

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“There’s ways to do it. There’s a park here. There are other opportunities that we may be able to stretch it out,” he says of the market. “But LRT is such an important project too, you know? So it has to go ahead. But I think sometimes our Transportation Department is so focused on just what they’re doing that they sometimes lose the bigger plot. And that’s a dynamic downtown, even during construction periods.

“We can’t make it perfect. We can’t probably allow it to continue on as it is, but let’s just say I don’t think you’d find a councillor who would shrug this off as a minor issue.”

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READ MORE: 2020 or 2021 ‘reasonable’ timeline for southeast LRT completion: Mayor Mandel

While it may take a bit of adjusting, Young says the market will accommodate the construction.

“We’ve kind of lived with construction for quite a while,” he says. “We just kind of adapt, we’re flexible.”

Plus, he’s looking forward to the new passengers, and business, the Valley Line will bring to the area once it’s complete.

The $1.8 billion Valley Line will run from Lewis Farms in west Edmonton to Mill Woods in the southeast.

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