The Pulse: June 20, 2022

Here's what you need to know about Edmonton today.

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  • 22°C: A mix of sun and cloud. 30% chance of showers late in the afternoon with risk of a thunderstorm. Wind becoming north 20 km/h gusting to 40 in the afternoon. High 22. UV index 7 or high. (forecast)
  • 16-26: The Elks lost to the Saskatchewan Roughriders on Saturday, dropping to 0-2. (details)

The view of 102 Avenue looking east from 102 Street, which currently has an under-construction LRT track, one lane of road, a bike lane, and sidewalks on each side

Idea to turn 102 Avenue over to pedestrians has long pedigree

By Karen Unland

Making 102 Avenue a pedestrian corridor, which city council narrowly voted to do last week amid significant opposition, is not a new idea — city planners saw the potential at least as far back as 1988.

Both 102 and 103 Avenues should be "upgraded to major pedestrian routes from the proposed neighbourhoods in the CP Lands and the Warehouse District to the Downtown Core and the Civic Centre," says the Edmonton Downtown Design Improvement Manual, released during Laurence Decore's time as mayor.

"Thirty-four years ago, planners were thinking about turning this into a pedestrian corridor," Speaking Municipally co-host Mack Male said on Episode 183 of the podcast. "We finally did it."

That 1988 vision continued on through subsequent downtown plans, such as the 1997 Capital City Downtown Plan, which sees the avenue as a "major residential and commercial pedestrian route," and the 2010 Capital City Downtown Plan, which refers to it as "a major pedestrian-oriented shopping street" connecting Oliver to the city's cultural core.

The difference is that none of those previous plans seems to have imagined making part of the avenue utterly car-free, as does the motion passed June 13. It instructs administration to draft a bylaw to close the traffic lane from 99 Street to 103 Street for a one-year pilot project once TransEd finishes that stretch of the Valley Line LRT.

In a city whose planning has been so car-oriented, it is perhaps not surprising that previous plans took it for granted that motor vehicle traffic would still be part of the mix, nor that current opponents of the closure would find the change radical.

"Most people can't imagine what it could be without cars," said podcast co-host Troy Pavlek, who was part of the effort to get councillors to reserve the avenue for pedestrians and cyclists. "They imagine that a street without cars is like the street in front of your house when no one's driving by. But when you fully remove traffic, you open up so many more possibilities. And in Edmonton, if people haven't gone outside of North America, it's very possible they have never experienced a city or an urban area like that. They simply cannot imagine how great this place could be."

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By Mack Male

Two police officers seen from behind as they walk down a street with a Chinatown gate in the background

Coming up at council: June 20-24, 2022

By Mack Male

City council will meet on Monday, with a continuation scheduled for Friday morning. The council services committee will meet Wednesday morning, with a public hearing scheduled for the afternoon. There's also a non-regular council meeting scheduled for Friday, for a private discussion about the upcoming budget.

  • A motion is expected from Coun. Tim Cartmell requesting that $5 million be provided to the Edmonton Police Commission to "support a Healthy Streets Operation Centre in Chinatown, to act as a multi-agency collaboration facility" that is intended to ensure multidisciplinary teams respond "in a timely and effective manner." This facility was included in the city's Downtown Core and Transit System Safety Plan, but only has enough funding for about three months.
  • Council must pass the 2023-2026 budgets by Dec. 31, 2022, which "will require a focused and systematic way of working" to meet the deadline while allowing for "comprehensive discussion," administration said in a report on the budget process. The suggested timeline would begin on Oct. 31 with the presentation of the proposed capital budget, followed by the proposed operating budget on Nov. 14, and the proposed utility services budget on Nov. 24. Final approval would be expected no later than Dec. 13.
  • Though the final 2023 calendar won't be presented for approval until October, council services committee is being asked for input and feedback to help draft it. Administration recommends a three-week cycle (rather than the current two-week cycle), with public hearings moving back to Monday and city council meetings scheduled for Tuesday and Wednesday.
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A piece of art called RED featuring a mix of Haida art and Japanese manga

Coming up this week: June 20-24, 2022

By Debbi Serafinchon

This week offers the opportunity to celebrate Indigenous Peoples, network with filmmakers and video-game creators, explore the intersection of climate change and discrimination, learn the techniques of wine-tasting, or listen in as startups make a pitch for investment.

Find even more listings in Taproot's weekly roundups.

Photo: RED, a 2008 work by Michael Nicoll Yahgulanaas, is among the pieces on display in the Art Gallery of Alberta's Comic Sans exhibit, which can be seen for free on June 21. (Michael Nicoll Yahgulanaas and UBC Museum of Anthropology/Art Gallery of Alberta)