— Downtown Edmonton Community League Update —

Waiting for the LRT

Downtown LRT construction continues to cause frustration for area businesses and residents

As Valley Line LRT construction and utility relocation continues to disrupt a large stretch of 102 Avenue, some in the area are frustrated by the impact it has had on their bottom line.

Catherine Medak, owner of children’s clothing store Alligator Pie, located in Manulife Place, estimates she has seen a 30 percent drop in business since the road was closed in January 2018. Medak’s frustration also stems from periods where construction seems to sit idle for several months at a time.

“You try to give [customers] a heads up before they’re coming and sometimes, they’re willing to venture out and find their way to you,” Medak says. “But in many instances, they hear ‘construction’ and they don’t even want to come.”

“I would say many businesses are suffering like we are in Manulife [Place],” she added.

Downtown Edmonton Community League president Chris Buyze shares some of these concerns. In addition to being bad for traffic and bad for businesses, he takes issue with how such a large stretch of 102 Avenue— from 96 to 103 Street—had to be closed all at once. He feels the impact could have been reduced if materials were brought over as needed as opposed to using parts of 102 Avenue as a laydown area for storage.

Buyze also questions the lack of wood hoarding, as he says the chain link fencing being used to fence off the area “is just not appropriate for the downtown core.”

“There are a lot of creative things that could be done around a site like this that has the potential to be there for several years,” Buyze says. “It’s such a large project to the city that it needs to look as attractive as possible […] so that businesses in the area do not suffer as a consequence of what it looks like and the amount of street area and stuff that is closed off.”

“Overall, everyone supports the LRT.” he added. “It’s just can we do it a little bit better moving forward.”

TransEd spokesman Dallas Lindskoog says while he understands how taking up such a large amount of space could appear detrimental to the neighborhood, construction would have taken longer if they had less space to work with.

“You try to give [customers] a heads up before they’re coming and sometimes, they’re willing to venture out and find their way to you. But in many instances, they hear ‘construction’ and they don’t even want to come.”

Catherine Medak, owner, Alligator Pie

“To an extent, I’m not surprised people are starting to question, ‘aren’t you done yet,’” he says. “People are getting tired and we’re doing our best to make it easy and as less impactful to the public as we can.”

City spokesman Quinn Nicholson added that the use of chain link fencing as opposed to wood hoarding helps keep the area visible for pedestrians, and that it also helps reduce crime on construction sites.

Lindskoog says that LRT construction on 102 Avenue is expected to finish sometime this year as scheduled. However, he says the area may still need to be closed to traffic beyond the end of 2020 as they need to do electrical work and testing once construction is complete.

When completed, the Valley Line LRT will run from 102 Street and 102 Avenue to Mill Woods, with an interchange at Churchill to connect to Capital and Metro lines.