Edmonton will reopen 102nd Avenue to traffic after city council votes down bylaw

Motorists will be able to drive eastbound on a section of 102nd Avenue in downtown Edmonton again, after city council rejected a bylaw to keep the corridor closed to traffic. 

Some councillors wanted to pilot a pedestrian zone between 99th and 103rd streets

Vehicles will be allowed on 102nd Avenue again after a council vote Tuesday. (Natasha Riebe/CBC)

Motorists will be able to drive eastbound on 102nd Avenue between 103rd and 99th streets in downtown Edmonton again after city council rejected a bylaw to keep the corridor closed to traffic. 

At a public hearing Tuesday, city council voted 8-4 against the bylaw that would have enabled the city to close that portion of the avenue to vehicles. 

Councillors Anne Stevenson, Ashley Salvador, Aaron Paquette and Andrew Knack voted in favour of the closure, as they wanted to pilot a pedestrian-friendly zone along that stretch of the downtown avenue. 

Coun. Tim Cartmell said the designated bike lane on 102nd Avenue is safe for cyclists, but not for pedestrians. 

"Today, walking in that corridor is not pleasant. It is not a pleasant experience," he said.

He noted that 102nd Avenue has no storefronts.

"It is not an energetic place and not having cars there is not going to change that, not in the short term," Cartmell said during the public hearing.

The avenue has been closed to traffic since early 2018 while TransEd, the consortium building the Valley Line Southeast LRT, worked on the line.

Adam Laughlin, manager of integrated infrastructure services with the city, told council that barricades could be taken down and the avenue reopened within a couple of weeks. 

LRT delay

Council had directed administration last June to draft the bylaw to close the four blocks as a chance to bring foot traffic and vibrancy to downtown. 

Stevenson, city councillor for Ward O-day'min, pushed the idea to pilot 102nd Avenue as a spot for strolling and shopping, car-free. 

"I was really excited to test out the pedestrianization of 102nd," she said. 

"Unfortunately, with the LRT being delayed opening, we weren't really able to get that sense, to get that understanding of how that corridor could operate without vehicles." 

City administration didn't support the move to keep the avenue closed to traffic and outlined those reasons in the draft bylaw. 

"The closure area is considerably constrained as it is bound on the north by the LRT and the south by the cycle track," the report says. 

A bike lane on 102nd opened last July, but administration kept the traffic lane closed to get ready to place street furniture. 

"The delay in the Valley Line Southeast LRT opening, coupled with ongoing deficiency repairs along 102 Avenue, resulted in temporary roadway barricades remaining along the corridor with no placement of street furnishings," the report says. 

Several groups at the public hearing spoke against the proposed bylaw. 

The Edmonton Downtown Business Association, the Downtown Recovery Coalition and the YMCA opposed the move to close 102nd Avenue to traffic. 

Kent Bittorf, vice-president of health fitness and aquatics facilities at the YMCA of Northern Alberta, said the YMCA reviewed the opportunities to use the space for day camps or fitness activities.

"But due to the width of the roadway, the sidewalks on either side and that active bike lane, we just don't feel we can safely and effectively animate the space. It's just quite constrained," he said.

TransEd has not given a new date for the Valley Line Southeast LRT to open. 


Natasha Riebe


Natasha Riebe landed at CBC News in Edmonton after radio, TV and print journalism gigs in Halifax, Seoul, Yellowknife and on Vancouver Island. Please send tips in confidence to natasha.riebe@cbc.ca.


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