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Bike lanes, LRT construction causing a divide between downtown and suburban residents: Nickel

New bike lanes in downtown Edmonton, May 10, 2017.
New bike lanes in downtown Edmonton, May 10, 2017. Global News

By the time the 2017 municipal election campaign really gets going, Councillor Mike Nickel feels confident he’ll have a good handle of what voters in his ward want to talk about.

He’s been handing out survey cards when door knocking, and says he’s got more than 500 responses back giving grades on a whole bunch of civic issues.

“I’ve seen the emergence of a difference between what we are talking here at City Hall and what people want in the suburbs,” he said. “It’s a downtown versus suburb agenda that is really starting to rub, and there are a lot of frustrated people out there.”

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Nickel said his respondents are worried about being able to get around, seeing road, LRT and sewer construction as nothing more than a bunch of orange detour signs. Back alleys are a concern too. Even though council agreed this term to put a lot of money long term into bringing back alleys up to standard, the actual fixing of those back lanes hasn’t started yet.

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“They want their core stuff taken care of,” Nickel said. “All the other more social orientated issues go into the middle of the pack. They’re not saying they’re unimportant, but they’re saying we need to take care of some of these fundamentals first.”

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According to Nickel he’s hearing from constituents that they don’t go downtown anymore beause of bike lanes, or because there’s no parking.

“It almost seems people, at least in Ward 11, are saying very clearly what you’re doing downtown is making it more unfriendly for us, not more friendly.”

Nickel said the data is a form of engagement that helps him set priorities, if he makes it back to City Hall October 16.