Mayor Don Iveson sat down with Edmonton AM host Mark Connolly Monday morning for his monthly phone-in from 7:30 to 8 a.m. Here are some of the highlights from their conversation:
About that girder …
The city is one week into the planned three-week repair on the Groat Road bridge, said Iveson. So far, work is on schedule.
“The first order of business is to get Groat Road open again, because we understand that’s a huge headache for a lot of different travellers moving in different directions through that part of the city,” he said.
Crews are now working to stabilize and remove the failed girders, and an investigation is underway into what caused them to buckle.
“We’re all going to have to patient as commuters.”
Can the city do more to help keep local music spaces alive?
“Yes and no. I mean, they are private businesses, and so they’re questions that become complex for the city,” Iveson said.
He pointed out that live music spaces — such as The Artery — tend to be in older and occasionally challenging spaces.
“The challenge is that so many buildings are getting to the stage in Edmonton, and the real estate market is what it is, that those venues and those sort of “low-rent opportunities” are going by the wayside — and so that’s creating a situation where there are fewer and fewer places where it’s viable for businesses to operate.”
He said Coun. Scott McKeen and Edmonton Arts Council are looking into the matter.
“I think we all recognize that there’s definitely a need for that kind of space in the city’s music scene, and there may be a role for the city and the arts council in helping to support it.”
Let’s talk about downtown parking costs ...
Asked whether the city will do anything to increase the number of low-cost parking spots in downtown Edmonton, Iveson had this to say:
“The challenge with downtown is that if you make parking free or cheap, then people will oversubscribe to it — so it’s a supply-and-demand issue,” he said.
“It’s a sign of coming of age … We are used to having to try to give away downtown, because people didn’t want to come here. Now people want to be here — and the challenge is pricing is really the only way to manage that demand.”
Iveson said the new electronic parking system to be introduced next year will include variable pricing, with lower-cost rates available during off-peak hours.
Potholes — is Edmonton the worst at dealing with them?
“We’ve had a very challenging year in terms of the freeze-thaw cycle, which is the main culprit for tearing the roads apart,” Iveson said.
Because it’s difficult to make a permanent patch while the temperature is still fluctuating, he said city crews have been working to put down temporary patches that will tide things over until warmer weather.
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“As things dry out into the spring, there will be a more concerted effort to get out there and do the more permanent patches. And then we get into construction season, where we do the best prevention for potholes that we can, which is a lot of resurfacing of roads”
In total, about 280 kilometres of roads will be paved this year as a preventative measure, he said.
Odds and ends ...
On the future of the NAIT LRT line: “The testing finished up early (Sunday) — I don’t know if that’s a good sign or not,” Iveson said. “I’m crossing my fingers.” The contractors are tentatively slated to hand over control of the line to the city today.
On the coming Cloverdale LRT station: “Most people see it as a positive to have that option, to be able to get downtown, to get to concerts and sports events,” Iveson said. The new stop will be the first in the river valley, and will benefit both recreational users and valley attractions — such as the Folk Festival and Muttart Conservatory.
On building more transit shelters: “We’ve been working hard to increase the number of shelters and you’ll see that there are a lot of new ones going up,” Iveson said.
On infill housing: “There are reasons why city council is moving ahead with opportunities for more infill, and they have to do with providing more housing choices, they have to do with leveraging all of the infrastructure that’s in place … to support more people. And that increases the efficiency and effectiveness of the city,” Iveson said.
On higher ticket prices at Fort Edmonton: Park management is working to make Fort Edmonton self-sustaining on its operating side, which means higher-quality attractions and subsequently a higher ticket price.