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Planned changes for Old Strathcona include dedicated bus lanes, more parks

Change is afoot in Old Strathcona, where the city is proposing new parks, transit upgrades and other ways to make the area around one of Edmonton’s most popular roadways more inviting to pedestrians.

City planners are looking for feedback via public engagement on plans for the area that have been around in one form or another since 2016.

Coun. Michael Janz, whose ward includes Old Strathcona, says this vision for the district’s future is long-term as well.

“As Edmonton grows to two-million people, we know that we’re going to need more cool public spaces, and we want to look for what that will be, where will the parks be, where will the festivals be, where the attractions are,” Janz told CTV News Edmonton.

Based on years of previous feedback from Edmontonians on improving the Old Strathcona experience, city planners have put together the Old Strathcona Public Realm Strategy.

It aims to make the district more pleasant for pedestrians and cyclists through environmental design such as wider sidewalks with more spaces in which to sit and hang out and a major overhaul to the corridor along Gateway Boulevard from Whyte Avenue to Saskatchewan Drive.

That would include replacing a car dealership with an urban plaza and turning the Old Strathcona Farmers’ Market parking lot into a park.

It would also include dedicated bus lanes on Whyte Avenue itself, reducing traffic to one lane each way.

Cherie Klassen, the executive director of the Old Strathcona Business Association, says Edmontonians have been calling for these changes and that most business owners are excited about them, too.

“We know most of our customers, our most valuable customers, take transit, they ride bikes and they walk here,” Klassen told CTV News Edmonton.

“Yes, people drive as well, but our most valuable customers who come and spend the most time and the most money take that form of transportation.”

Both planners and business owners realize that any change comes with trade-offs. The biggest impact of this 10-to-20-year plan, which is not yet funded, would be on parking and traffic flow. 

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