City has a plan to guide redevelopment around Rundle LRT station

After a year of study and public consultation, the city has presented its master plan for the land around the Rundle LRT station.

Goal is to knit together both sides of busy 36th Street N.E. and improve pedestrian realm

A study by the City of Calgary has produced a 30-year plan for the area around the Rundle LRT station on 36th Street N.E., which is near the Sunridge Mall and the Peter Lougheed hospital. (Google Maps)

It's a part of Calgary that doesn't get much attention from city hall, but after a year of study and public consultation, the city has presented its master plan for the land around the Rundle LRT station.

The plan was discussed by city council's planning and urban development committee on Wednesday.

Area councillor Ray Jones said this part of the northeast was built out in the 1980s. As redevelopment projects arise, he said it's good to have a roadmap to guide the coming changes.

"You have to bear in mind, this is a 30-year plan. It's not something that has to be done today or tomorrow," Jones said.

Improve pedestrian movement

The study focused on the area around the LRT station, which is in the middle of 36th Street N.E.

The area examined includes Sunridge Mall on the west side, the Peter Lougheed hospital to the northwest of the station and residential properties on the east side.

Jones said there's a need to make the street more pedestrian-friendly and to improve connections for nearby residents to the station itself.

"Thirty-sixth Street is the problem. And it's the barriers that it's created over the years and the amount of time that it takes to get across the street," said Jones.

Jones wants the traffic lights adjusted to give pedestrians more time to cross the busy street.

"I've asked this a few times of transportation and it still hasn't been done," he said.

Pedestrian crossings a priority

The master plan envisions improvements to sidewalks in the area, perhaps a public plaza on the west side of the station and public art.

It foresees a future with higher density commercial developments lining the edge of the Sunridge Mall property and greater density in the residential properties to the east side of 36th Street.

The pedestrian crossings on 36th Street at 26th Avenue and at 20th Avenue at Rundlehorn Drive are deemed to be priorities for improvements.

There's no money attached to the master plan but Jones said he expects a report on improving those two crossings will come to city council next May.

Another member of the planning committee, Coun Druh Farrell, said she liked what she saw in the report and hoped that it would lead to some spending from the city's capital budget in 2018.

"It's high time we started showing east of the Deerfoot some love, and I would be happy to start seeing some capital investment in this area," said Farrell.

Not happening in foreseeable future

The study concluded a couple of things in the area will definitely not be happening in the foreseeable future.

Sunridge Mall is staying put and will not be "de-malled" like some retail shopping centres in North America are experiencing.

The LRT on 36th Street also won't be going underground or be switched to an elevated line.

Jones said the mistake of running the LRT down the middle of the busy street can't be undone.

"The LRT actually should have gone into the hospital and been deviated underground at that point in time, but to do it now, it would be cost prohibitive," said the veteran councillor.