Leaders from various downtown organizations recently gathered at an event on Rice Howard Way to launch a Downtown Pedestrianization Plan which aims to make the City of Edmonton more pedestrian-friendly.
The plan outlines a total of nine actions that aim to create a better level of accessibility and safety for Edmonton residents to “walk and roll,” whether in the form of walking, biking, driving, using mobility aids, or taking other favourite wheeled transportation methods.
The downtown Pedestrianization Plan was co-created by the Urban Development Institute (UDI) – Edmonton Metro and Paths for People, and endorsed by the Edmonton Downtown Business Association, Downtown Edmonton Community League and Downtown Recovery Coalition. It identifies shared interests along with quick wins that can be implemented in collaboration with the City of Edmonton.
This plan comes as a result of the debate around the future of 102 Ave., which has prompted several ideas on what pedestrianization in the downtown should and can look like.
Despite different organizations having contrasting opinions on whether the 102 Ave. proposal would be successful, all stakeholders agreed that Edmonton residents deserve a downtown that is a “fun and friendly place to walk and roll around.”
In February 2023, Council decided not to move forward with a pilot to close the street to cars; a debate that inspired UDI – Edmonton Metro and Paths for People to work together to identify solutions to create a more enjoyable pedestrian experience downtown.
Edmonton’s Urban Planning Committee will discuss a report from City Administration on opportunities for temporary street closures downtown later this year.
“What we learned from the 102 Avenue debate is that if we focus on only a small stretch of the downtown, we lose sight of the bigger picture,” said Jason Syvixay, director of metropolitan strategy and advocacy, UDI – Edmonton Metro. “Our plan presents a more holistic vision of what pedestrianization can look like, with actions that have been created by a range of organizations. Together, we have thoughtfully considered and compromised on priorities and how to move forward.”
Downtown organizations urge the City to consider the Downtown Pedestrianization Plan actions with include implementing shared and open streets downtown by targeting immediate improvements to places like Rice Howard Way and 104 Street, expanding sidewalks for increased accessibility and encouraging developers to integrate public and private space to increase connectivity.
Other actions include enforcing and supporting heightened standards for construction detours, elevating streetscape expectations, enhancing LRT entrances with wider stairwells, clearer sightlines, and more amenities, upgrading cycling infrastructure and more.
“Prioritizing the mobility of residents and visitors first is critical to the success of our downtown. Actions in the plan that point to urban features like expanding our tree canopy and streetscape will ensure people stay and linger longer in the core,” said Cheryl Probert, president, downtown Edmonton community league.