A two-year road construction project that goes to tender in the coming weeks appears to be the solution to restoring Edmonton’s Harbin Gate for Chinatown.
A representative from the newly formed Chinatown Transformation Collaborative Society and the general supervisor for the city’s Jasper Avenue New Vision project confirm talks are underway to have the Harbin Gate installed on 97 Street.
The gate was removed for Valley Line LRT construction in November 2017 and put in storage. Three decades earlier, it was presented to the city by Edmonton’s twin city of Harbin.
Jasper Avenue New Vision project supervisor, Nathan Stelmach, said the location they’ve picked is about half a block north of Jasper Avenue on 97 Street, outside Canada Place.
“There are actually soil anchors underneath 97 Street for the convention centre and we had to make sure we were north of that for the foundation of the gate.”
Phase two of the New Vision project will begin next spring as crews will upgrade the eastbound lanes of Jasper Avenue between 97 and 100 streets. The westbound lanes will be done in 2021, as well as two blocks of 97 Street.
“We’re preparing for the gate as part of the 97 Street work,” Stelmach confirmed. “We have the location identified and we’ll be doing our improvements — they have to be done first, of course, for 97 Street.”
“At this time, the gate fabrication and installation is not part of the project but I believe that it is being worked on out of another department at the moment.”
Sandy Pon said the Chinatown Transformation Collaborative Society is working with the city to make sure it happens once the 97 Street two-block upgrade is done.
“By 2022, I’d really like to see the gate will be rebuilt, and have it coincide with the beautification or revitalization in the area. That’s our goal.”
Pon said the mandate of the society is to upgrade Chinatown’s 52 acres.
“Things will be happening for businesses, start-ups, and housing while working with the current organizations and agencies that are in the area.”
Phase two of the Jasper Avenue New Vision comes after the initial work that was done to the west, between 100 and 102 streets in 2012 and 2013. This second phase will have an approximate budget of $50 million, and will be before city council this fall for final approval.
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Part of the work will be to upgrade the roof membrane of the portion of the Convention Centre that extends under the intersection at Jasper and 97 Street. A separate project will upgrade the convention centre itself, but will be in areas the public does not see, Stelmach said.
The street-level work will have Jasper Avenue slightly narrowed, to create wider sidewalks, with improved street-scaping, more trees and upgraded paving stones.
Improvements on 100 Street, south to the funicular, will also happen. That additional work will also mean the Frank Oliver pedway will be demolished. It runs under 100 Street, connecting the ATB Financial building with an entrance way in the park outside the Fairmont Hotel MacDonald.
The eastbound work on Jasper Avenue would be done first, leaving westbound and 97 Street for 2021, in order for the Valley Line LRT construction, and testing two blocks north of there, to be completed. Stelmach said the width of the street would be narrower and the median taken out, which will make it easier for the gate to be installed.
The Chinatown and area Business Association will be in front of council’s executive committee on Aug. 19.