Edmonton will reopen 102nd Avenue to traffic after the city council voted down the bylaw
Motorists can again head east on 102nd Avenue between 99th and 103rd Streets in downtown Edmonton after the city council voted down a bylaw to keep the corridor closed to traffic.
In a public hearing on Tuesday, the City Council voted nearly 7-5 against the bylaw that would have allowed the city to close that portion of the avenue to vehicles.
Council members Anne Stevenson, Ashley Salvador, Aaron Paquette, Andrew Knack, and Mayor Amarjeet Sohi voted to close because they wanted to create a pedestrian-friendly zone along this stretch of Downtown Avenue.
count. Tim Cartmell said the designated bike lane on 102nd Avenue is safe for cyclists but not for pedestrians.
“Today it is not pleasant to walk in this corridor. It’s not a pleasant experience,” he said.
He noted that 102nd Avenue has no storefronts.
“It’s not an energetic place and not having cars there isn’t going to change that, not in the short term,” Cartmell said during the public hearing.
The avenue has been closed to traffic since early 2018 while TransEd, the consortium building the Valley Line Southeast LRT, worked on the route.
Adam Laughlin, manager of integrated infrastructure services for the city, told the city council that barricades in the area could be taken down and the avenue could be reopened within weeks.
The council directed the administration last June to draft bylaws to close the four blocks to bring foot traffic and liveliness to downtown.
Ward O-day’min councilman Stevenson pushed the idea of testing 102nd Avenue as a car-free place to stroll and shop.
“I was really excited to test pedestrian 102nd,” she said.
“Unfortunately, due to the delayed opening of the LRT, we couldn’t really understand how this corridor could work without vehicles.”
The city administration did not support the move to keep the avenue closed to traffic and outlined these reasons in the draft statute.
“The restricted area is significantly restricted as it is bounded by the LRT to the north and the cycle lane to the south,” the report said.
A bike lane on the 102nd opened last July, but administration kept the lane closed in preparation to put up street furniture.
“The delay in the opening of the Valley Line Southeast LRT, coupled with ongoing defect repairs along 102 Avenue, resulted in temporary street barricades remaining along the corridor with no street furniture installed,” the report said.
Several groups opposed the proposed statute at Tuesday’s public hearing.
The Edmonton Downtown Business Association, the Edmonton Chamber of Commerce and the YMCA opposed closing the 102nd to traffic.
Kent Bittorf, vice president of health, fitness and aquatic facilities at the Northern Alberta YMCA, spoke at Tuesday’s meeting.
He said the YMCA was exploring opportunities to use the space for day camps or fitness activities.
“But due to the width of the roadway, the sidewalks on either side, and the active bike lane, we just don’t feel like we can safely and effectively enliven the space. He’s just pretty limited,” he said.
TransEd did not announce a new date for the opening of the Valley Line Southeast LRT.