Edmonton wants your say on what pedestrian link between Ice District and Arts District should look like

A view of 103 Avenue facing west to the Bell Tower and Edmonton Tower. Scott Johnston/630 CHED

It’s just one block along Edmonton’s 103 Avenue, between 100 and 101 streets. But it’s an important block linking everything that’s been built up around Rogers Place.

An area by Churchill Square is about to get a makeover.

City planners want to spruce up the connection that links the Civic Precinct, Ice District, the Royal Alberta Museum, Winspear Centre, city hall, Stanley A. Milner Public Library, office towers, restaurants, hotels and the Valley Line South LRT.

Project director Ali Alou and his staff will be taking notes Tuesday afternoon in the lobby of one of those buildings: the Edmonton Tower.

“It’s a visioning strategy phase of the project,” he told Global News in an interview. “We’re trying to capture the public’s input, the public’s vision for this section — this corridor — to make sure we’re designing something that works for all.”

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Alou insisted this won’t do away with the car since there’s an access point to the back end of the City Centre shopping mall, as well as a pair of indoor parkades at the Sutton Place Hotel and Mainstreet Tower, and a surface parking lot.

“We’re not at the stage where we have come to a conclusion of what would be designed on there. That does not mean getting rid of cars though, that means creating around a space for pedestrians, making sure it becomes safer and more walkable, more green.”

Watch below: (From December 2016) The city spent tens of millions of dollars to transform streets on downtown’s east side. The area is now ready for business, but one long-time resident isn’t sold. Kendra Slugoski reports.

Click to play video: 'East side of downtown Edmonton transformed'
East side of downtown Edmonton transformed

More green and less wind. 103 Avenue is well-known as a wind tunnel where young trees on the west side of city hall had to be replaced over the years, and gravel from Mainstreet’s rooftop damaged the glass pyramid atop city hall.

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“We’re well aware of the wind issues that are currently on site,” Alou said. “Whether it’s with art pieces, some kind of design of trees or design of any kind of structure that can reduce the impact of wind on pedestrians in that corridor.

“Increasing lighting is part of the product that we are aiming for. The design of that, or the look and feel of that, is what we’re gauging the public for as well, and looking for input for in the public engagement session that we’re holding.”

The public drop-in will be between 3 p.m. and 6 p.m in the Edmonton Tower lobby. It will gather information for the visioning concept stage which will be completed in the next three months.

Alou said preliminary and detailed design will happen through 2020, with construction anticipated to start for the 2021 construction season.

By then, most of the projects around Churchill Square should be complete, as will the plaza and most of the buildings in the Ice District, with the possible exception of what’s going up on the old Greyhound station site which has been delayed until 2021 after the design of that changed.

“We’re making sure that we’re co-ordinating with all other construction projects that are happening downtown, to make sure there isn’t any conflicting projects,” Alou said.

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The Valley Line LRT was due to be completed in late 2020, however, it appears to be behind schedule. Still, no new timeline has been set as crews try to play catch-up on construction.

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