Edmonton city councillors agree to initial steps towards redesign of 101 Avenue

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WATCH: Residents are asking city council to make it a priority to redevelop 101 Avenue on the east end of the city. Kendra Slugoski provides the details – Jun 5, 2018

After hearing a well-orchestrated lobby from residents whose homes straddle 101 Avenue east of the river near downtown Edmonton, city council’s urban planning committee has agreed to take the first steps to what could be a redesigned road.

They’ve asked for documents on planning and design to come back in the fall that will include safety features and costs.

101 Avenue isn’t what it once was, said resident Angela Mao.

“Administration’s report calls the corridor stable. Our community would say that it is stable in that it is stagnant. It looks like some highway out of ’50s.”

It was the highway into town said Councillor Ben Henderson, however now the city has grown well to the east, so it has become a dangerous main spine through several neighborhoods.

“I think it’s a unique circumstance,” Henderson said. “I don’t think that we have too many other roads like this, that were designed for one purpose. And that purpose is no longer really functioning, which creates this opportunity to reimagine it.”

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Coralee Lechelt deals with the traffic problems from her home on 76 Street. Her daughter Sarah, 11, isn’t thrilled with the way she has to walk to school, with the sidewalk butting up against the avenue.

“It doesn’t have a space between where the cars are.”

Coralee said this is a prime opportunity to convert the corridor. She said 10 or 15 years from now will be too late.

“New families are moving in. Properties are becoming ‘for sale’ as seniors are aging out of their homes.”

“We got a chance to be heard. I’m very excited. This almost didn’t happen,” Lechelt said.

Committee chair, Councillor Michael Walters, said it was good to work with a community that’s united, and not taking a NIMBY [not in my backyard] approach, but instead a YIMBY [yes in my backyard] one.
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“What this was today was a group of citizens that have been working in the aftermath of a bunch of school closures, to reimagine their neighbourhood, and to own up to the question, how do we get more young families into our neighbourhood? How do we increase density in our neighbourhood in a way that people can get behind?”

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Two concerns have been raised that will be addressed in the fall. Eventually 101 Avenue could become an LRT route for when the future Festival Line runs to Sherwood Park.

And, if 101 Avenue moves up the priority list, some other needed project will have to be dropped.

City staff will do more consultation with the public over the next 16 to 20 weeks before bringing council some recommendations.

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