August 24, 2017 7:00 am

‘Grumpy’ residents on both sides of the Imagine Jasper Avenue experiment

Photos of the Imagine Jasper Avenue project.

Courtesy: City of Edmonton
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Partway through the main street experiment on Jasper Avenue, comes complaints about trying to carve into a main arterial road, safety concerns about thousands of downtown residents and now a twin tower proposal that will add even more residents to the area.

Sorting through all of this is Councillor Scott McKeen.

“I’m hopeful that we can do this in a way that satisfies both sides, and makes them both a little bit grumpy.”

WATCH BELOW: Two weeks after portions of lanes were closed and parking was removed along Jasper Avenue Vinesh Pratap found out how Edmontonians were enjoying the design demo called the Jasper Avenue Experience.

The Imagine Jasper Avenue test pilot has brought criticism for its park benches that take up the outside lanes of traffic, and how shoddy things look after only a couple of weeks.

McKeen said he’s sent an email to city staff, passing along concerns about how dried out and ugly the portable trees look.

“I think it was more the maintenance of that installation,” he said. “I was out there one day pulling carpet, it was already bunched up and stuff, and there’s leaves blowing into it, it looked a bit dirty.

“It’s not enough to put up an installation like that and just leave it.”

A narrower Jasper Avenue is the ultimate goal for 2019, especially with pedestrian safety a concern.

“There’s pedestrian safety issues in Oliver,” McKeen said. “There’s 20,000 people living there so we have to look after them too. It’s a fine balance and we have to try to reach it in a way that makes sense for everybody and I’m optimistic we can do that.”

He’s suggesting traffic changes, especially west of 109 Street where Jasper Avenue is seven lanes wide. Alternating lane openings is one proposal McKeen is taking to the transportation planners.

“We’ve seen flow lanes in other areas of the city where you have, maybe three lanes of traffic coming in, in the morning during the rush, and then we have three lanes exiting in the evening. And the other 21 hours of the day it’s a great urban street with wide sidewalks etc.”

READ MORE: Pedestrian-friendly transformation being tested along Edmonton’s Jasper Ave

And now at 115 Street, across from what will become the Emerald building, is a proposal for two towers of 48 and 37 storeys. An open house is set for Saturday afternoon between 1 and 3 p.m. at unit 104, 10107 – 115 Street.

McKeen wants to see a balance between the needs of the pedestrians, and motorists, insisting city council is not anti-car.

“It’s frustrating. Sitting in a car, seeing traffic congestion, so I think we’re not ignoring them. The data will get from this installation will be valuable coming up with ways to mitigate those concerns.”

The Imagine Jasper Avenue pilot project will continue until Oct. 31., then a wrap-up report will go to city council. Construction on permanent fixtures for between 109 and 115 Streets will begin in 2019.

 

© 2017 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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