Creating memorable spaces: New project seeks to transform Edmonton’s back alleys into art

A new project is looking to make alleys into art to help revitalize downtown Edmonton.

Funded by the federal government, the city, and the Downtown Business Association (DBA), the $400,000 initiative will see new murals highlighting local history and culture painted on back alleys.

Puneeta McBryan, DBA executive director, said the project aims to transform underutilized alleys and create more pedestrian-friendly and memorable spaces.

One alley, tucked away just steps from Jasper Avenue between 103 and 104 streets, will honour Lulu Anderson, a Black Edmontonian who was refused entry to the Metropolitan Theatre. Anderson sued the theatre and lost in court.

“We’re paying tribute to her,” said Mayor Amarjeet Sohi. “(She) had the courage to stand up against racism.”

“This is the first time we’re going to have an honouring of the legacy of this very early civil rights story in our city,” McBryan added.

The DBA will solicit visions from local Black artists to makeover the alley in her memory.

On Rice Howard Way, another alley will be redesigned by the Works International Visual Arts Society.

“It brings more people into the back alleys and more eyes on the street,” Sohi said. “(It) absolutely improves the safety and wellbeing of everyone.”

“Today’s project is going to be very exciting because it will allow us to use art and culture and bring vibrancy to downtown.”

Work will begin this summer with the goal of wrapping up work by September.

With files from CTV News Edmonton’s Jessica Robb 

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