History will likely be lost with west LRT construction in Edmonton

West LRT renders of Glenora supplied by the City of Edmonton. March 13, 2018.
West LRT renders of Glenora supplied by the City of Edmonton. March 13, 2018. Courtesy: City of Edmonton

The City of Edmonton has confirmed that building an LRT along the selected route means that several hundred trees are in danger.

While the historical component has become vague over the decades, a report going to a council committee next week admits demolition may include a boulevard of trees planted 80 years ago.

Project supervisor Eva Cheung said the city’s inventory of trees doesn’t have any historical designation. They haven’t even been cataloged over the years, so the city isn’t entirely sure specific trees at 102 Avenue and 107 Street are the ones that were planted for the 1939 royal visit of King George VI and his wife, Queen Elizabeth.

“It appears that the Edmonton Horticultural Society and Vacant Lots Club made a donation of $50.00 in the early spring of 1939 to encourage the city council to ‘beautify’ the route of the Royal¬†Family’s trip around the city and suggested planting trees,” Kathryn Ivany, the city archivist wrote in an email.

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“The photographs in the official souvenir program show a rather sparse expanse in the area where the grandstands were set up on the newly renamed Kingsway Avenue. I cannot tell if those trees you are referring to are the ones suggested.”

Cheung said many trees are in poor health, and won’t make it.

“Bringing linear LRT infrastructure into communities will have its impact,” said Cheung. “Trying to fit that in with the road right-of-way and considering the space requirement is part of the challenge.”

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The other stretch along Stony Plain Road also provides a challenge. Cheung said the city is prepared to replant 1,800 trees once the project is complete.

“The majority of the tree plantings will be the younger trees, because (with) the larger mature tree, it is very difficult, near impossible, to put them in as a new planting.”

The report also identifies six buildings that are on the historical list. Two, both city-owned, will be demolished. Two more will only have a sliver of property expropriated, while two more will lose access from Stony Plain Road, and will have to get new entryways built off an alley way.

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