There is a lot of development and investment in Downtown to celebrate, but there is also still a lot undone. We need to keep looking critically at improving our city (especially our urban areas), as we’re coming from behind in many respects. With that in mind, here’s your league’s wish list for the heart of Edmonton:
1. Separated Bike Lanes: Councillor Scott McKeen and Stantec’s initiative to implement a “minimum grid” separated bike lanes pilot makes sense. While very few Edmontonians commute by bicycle, that, we believe, is because of lacking safe infrastructure. The pilot is actually quite a cheap project that’s had big returns in other cities, including ones with similar winters, like Calgary.
2. Better Streetscaping: While roads like 104 St. have been made more pedestrian and retail friendly, we have literal miles to go. The OCL fought against the status quo for the west side of Jasper Ave., but every central Edmonton street, especially right Downtown, deserves better. The City ought to budget this as a priority, not as an afterthought.
3. Clarifying the Urbanism Rules: Recent rejected “megabar” applications have raised the need for fine-tuning of our zoning bylaws. Sensitivity to Downtown’s mixed-use nature and the desire to continue to attract residents (including families!) means our high-density core needs clearer rules to prevent disruptive businesses from ruining the street for all of us. We love our nightlife, but at the right scale and in the right location.
4. Developing Surface Parking: Surface parking lots do nothing for Downtown vibrancy or community. Provincial rules about taxation do not encourage owners to build on empty lots. Edmonton and Calgary are lobbying to change the rules.
5. More Community Programming: We’re doing more events than ever. This year we’re proud to add the Balconies in Bloom awards (with an urban agriculture fair component), plus a mini film festival. Events are our way of connecting residents with new and returning community league members. If you have ideas and suggestions for future programming, we’d love to hear from you.
DECL board of directors: Chris Buyze (President), Ian O’Donnell (VP), Milap Petigara (Treasurer), Jillian Gamez (Secretary), Phil Anhorn, Erin Duebel, Yvonne Epp, Laurissa Kalinowsky, Christie Lutsiak, Alena Manera, Jarrett Mykytiuk, Chris Pilon and Scott Winder.