As Edmonton thaws from winter’s grip we’re greeted with a new reality: construction season.
Downtown is seeing unprecedented investment and renewal projects, both big and small, that were years in the making. With budgets in place to realize our downtown vision and much of the work well underway, we should focus on the “fine grain” elements that will really make it a place where people want to be and that visitors will remember.
1. A safe core is a clean core.
Safety is part reality, part perception. Having eyes on the street and identifying problem spots helps us work to address these concerns with downtown’s beat cops. But, least of all, keeping downtown streets clean makes for a place that’s attractive to many and, therefore, feels safer.
2. A clean core is a friendly core.
Most of us downtowners walk. When we do, we’re more likely to notice litter. The City, businesses and residents must all do their part to keep streets and buildings tidy. And not just on the inside, but the outside too, as they are part of our “outdoor living room.” A clean downtown isn’t just expected, it’s necessary.
3. Plant more trees and greenery.
While Edmontonians have started understanding the necessity and value of investing in street-scaping, we have a long way to go. A healthy, mature tree canopy on a pedestrian street has real health benefits to its citizens. Plus, it’s good for private investment (104 St. for example) and it’s the kind of amenity you want in a dense urban core.
4. Offer more retail opportunities.
We need more small retail bays at the base of new and existing buildings. As you travel to other cities with vibrant urban cores, you quickly realize the value of small retail. On a street with few existing shop, developers might not understand the potential. But small street-facing spaces of 500 square feet or less give entrepreneurial Edmontonians a place to experiment with new businesses and meet a demand I believe is untapped.
5. Remember the long-term gain.
We all knew it was coming — closed roads, construction headaches, painful commutes. Downtown is increasingly a maze of barricades, construction hoarding and temporary signage. The City is forming a strategy to communicate that Downtown is still “open for business.” Citizens, however, can also be ambassadors. After all, we wanted this change, so now it’s time to remind people of the long-term vision. But let’s minimize inconveniences for pedestrians and drivers. We all have to work together to minimize the impact on our existing downtown as we look to build for the future.
DOWNTOWN EDMONTON COMMUNITY LEAGUE EVENTS
MAR. 12 — General meeting, featuring the finalized Alex Decoteau Park design, update on the capital budget by Councillor McKeen and more. 7 pm, DECL Community Space, 10042 103 St.
MAY 3 — Spring Clean-Up at “Gazebo Park.” Bring work clothes and gloves. The community league provides the rest. 10 am, starting in Dick Mather Park (“Gazebo Park”)
MAY 12 — Downtown Edmonton Community League’s annual general meeting with guest speakers from the Edmonton Galleria project. 7 pm, Community Space, 10042 103 St.