It’s that time of year. Winter rolls in to stay, the Xmas shopping season begins, and City Council debates the City budget for the new year. I spoke at the November 23rd public hearing on behalf of the Glenwood Community League, in support of Community League operating & infrastructure grants, as well as volunteer training. These come with a city-wide scope that benefits all Community Leagues. However, as a Jasper Place resident, I’ve got a budget ‘want’ for our neck of the woods, and you’re gonna hate me for it because it’s a big one. The Grant MacEwan Arts Campus in West Jasper Place is centrally located between the Jasper Place communities, just across 156st from the Jasper Place Transit Terminal, and just feet from the JP station on the proposed WLRT conceptual design. The building is valued at $37 million. With Grant MacEwan centralizing its programs, the site could well become available in the near future, while the Mayor has already expressed some support for the purchasing of the building by the city.So why in difficult economic times should the city budget to purchase this facility in the near future? Good question, I’m glad you asked:
1) The Community of West JP has been chronically short of park space since the old school site was turned over to Grant Mac for the construction of the campus. Furthermore, the community’s only public park is the school yard of Sherwood Elementary, a school with an uncertain future, while the community hall adjacent to it isn’t getting any younger. It’s not outdoor park space, but it could become a wonderful community gathering point and recreational facility.
2) As many residents pointed out at the time, the campus was built chronically short of parking. Furthermore, the proposed cut through the southeast corner of the 156st/Stony Plain Road intersection by the West LRT will remove most of the campus’ onsite parking. The Jasper Place area is home to 15,000 residents who can get to and from it without much driving or hassle at all.
3) The HUM. The Stony Plain Road Business Association is still in the hunt for a home for their proposed Holistic Urban Market. There’s more than enough room on-site to house it, and more than enough residential density around it, and coming through future infill to support it, while affording residents another amenity to allow them to ‘live locally’.
4) Both the Stony Plain Road commercial corridor and the four neighboring communities are under-going revitalization efforts. There are three realms to a neighborhood revitalization – That which the community can do, that which the city can do, and that which land and business owners can do. The Stony Plain Road Business Association has been active for several years and is looking to take a larger leap with the creation of a local market. The city is in the process of preparing for streetscape work along SPR, but has much work to do to cultivate and help revitalize local public spaces. The community itself is long-suffering, having endured numerous delays to local projects, namely those held up by ongoing uncertainty over the WLRT, while losing a number of volunteers along the way. The purchase of the Arts Campus can positively affect all three – creating a centre that builds pride within the community, helps to support and grow the local business revitalization, and hopefully helps to attract new quality infill development along the way.
Well actually I’ve got two asks, but we’ll talk about redeveloping the neighboring Butler Park/JP transit terminal area into a town square centre, another day.