Section of 102 Avenue in downtown Edmonton will remain open to vehicles

Click to play video: 'Edmonton will keep 102 Avenue closed to traffic for 1-year pedestrian pilot'
Edmonton will keep 102 Avenue closed to traffic for 1-year pedestrian pilot
In downtown Edmonton, 102 Avenue from 99 Street to 103 Street will remain closed to vehicle traffic for one year so the city can test out the stretch of road being a pedestrian-friendly corridor. Kim Smith explains. – Jun 13, 2022

City council put the brakes on a plan to make a portion of 102 Avenue in downtown Edmonton vehicle-free.

The proposal would have seen a section of 102 Avenue, between 99 Street and 103 Street, accessible only to pedestrians.

Construction work on the LRT Southeast extension has closed the area off to vehicles temporarily since 2018 and there was movement towards making that change permanent to establish a pedestrian corridor.

Councillor Anne Stevenson put forward a motion to defer the project ahead six months and re-evaluate, but that motion was voted down.

During Tuesday’s public hearing, councillors voted against it 8-4 (Sohi, Rice, Cartmell, Rutherford, Hamilton, Tang, Principe and Wright voted against; while Stevenson, Knack, Paquette, and Salvadore voted for the motion).

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While some councillors agreed it’s important to re-energize the downtown core, others said this isn’t the right place or way to do so.

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“Right now, today, walking through that corridor is not a pleasant experience,” Councillor Tim Cartmell said. “There’s not eyes, there’s not energy, there’s not storefronts… It is not an energetic place… It is a pretty barren place.”

Click to play video: 'Edmonton takes step towards making 102 Avenue pedestrian-only'
Edmonton takes step towards making 102 Avenue pedestrian-only

Mayor Amarjeet Sohi said closing the area to traffic hasn’t created the type of environment he thought it might.

“What I envisioned in June has not happened… on 102 Avenue,” the mayor said.

“I firmly believe that downtown business districts need places where people can just go hang out, and mingle with friends, mingle with community and not worry about their safety and interactions with vehicles. And I think we’ll end up creating those places, whether it’s Rice Howard way, whether it’s 104 Street, whether it’s 107 Street,” Sohi said.

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“I am really passionate about our downtown,” the mayor added.

“Today we heard from a number of stakeholders that we need to have a holistic approach.”

The Edmonton Downtown Business Association, the Edmonton Chamber of Commerce and the YMCA voiced opposition to closing 102 Avenue to traffic.

City administration also didn’t recommend keeping the avenue closed to traffic, saying the area is already constrained by the LRT to the north and by the bike lane to the south.

While this specific motion was voted down, councillors said they were open to discussing this and other pedestrian-only areas in Edmonton in future discussions.

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