Churchill Square will be darker this December as the annual Holiday Light Up festivities are put on hold. It will also be noisier as work on the new Valley Line LRT ramps up under the square.
Residents can expect the noise of cranes and trucks to continue until spring 2019, as TransEd builds the underground connector that will link the new light-rail line to the existing Capital and Metro Lines.
The southeast leg of the Valley Line, expected to open by the end of 2020 will link downtown to Mill Woods Town Centre.
For the work to be done safely, eight-foot construction walls have gone up along 102nd Avenue on the south end of the square, and 99th Street on the east side.
"The whole point of getting the hoarding [walls] around it was to keep the chaos and the mess behind the walls," Dean Heuman, manager of stakeholder relations with TransEd, said Thursday.
"Construction is not clean. We're going to have a large crane in there and we're going to have other machinery in there and that can really be distracting to downtown."
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The hoarding wall on 99th Street is directly in front of L'Espresso Café, blocking people from parking in front of the business.
Kelly Zeidan, the coffee shop's owner, told CBC News he is concerned about losing business because of the construction.
To compensate for that, the city and TransEd have put up signs on the walls letting people know the businesses are still open.
Art on the walls
"We're also going to do some artwork on the hoarding," Heuman said. "Try to make it a more pleasurable experience to walk around it."
He said TransEd — in conjunction with the Art Gallery of Alberta and local groups like iHuman and the Edmonton Arts Council — is working on plans for an outdoor art gallery along the walls.
Heuman said TransEd and the city acknowledge that the construction is an inconvenience.
"We're trying to keep it as nice and clean and tidy as possible out front so people can still enjoy that space."
The Downtown Business Association last week announced the annual Holiday Light Up will go on hiatus this year.