Over 15,000 folks reside in the four communities (Glenwood, West Jasper Place, Canora, and Britannia-Youngstown) bordering the Stony Plain Road commercial corridor between 149st and 170th Street. Grant MacEwan’s Arts Campus brings a number of students to the area to spend their day, and even more Edmontonians spend time on foot in the area, while coming and going through the Jasper Place Transit Terminal.
Stony Plain Road however, has obviously remained a vehicular corridor. A significant arterial route into the downtown, the current streetscape (and it’s mass of auto-oriented signage) is friendly to those passing through at 50km/h, harsh to anyone else. Businesses have little to no street-front parking and limited stalls on side-streets. Pedestrians have little to no shelter from traffic, and must navigate narrow sidewalks which are obstructed in numerous locations by light standards, or other obstacles, posing an unacceptable barrier to access for all.
Credit is due to the Stony Plain Road BRZ for it’s efforts thus far on utilizing the corridor for community events such as Storefront Cinema Nights, and long-term projects like the Holistic Urban Market. Physical rehabilitation of the commercial strip however has largely remained stagnant, notably due to several years of on-going uncertainty during the West LRT debate.
Progress on this front is now going to take a large step forward over the next several years. two presentations on the upcoming multi-phase streetscape project and it’s timelines have been held in the community over the past month. The presentations and more information are available here. The first phase will run from 149st to 158st (just encompassing the JP transit centre). I am disappointed that an opportunity is being missed by not taking the townsquare development, originally conceived in the Jasper Place Revitalization Strategy for the area encompassing the transit terminal, Butler park and east to the corner of 156st and SPR, and incorporating it into phase 1 of this project. There his however much to like about the work being proposed, in particular;
-Shrinking SPR from 16m curb-to-curb to 14.5m. The Glenwood Community League banged on this drum two years ago in regards to widening the sidewalks and improving handicap accessibility. I’m more than pleased to see that this is finally going to happen.
– Closing 152st, on both the north and south sides up until the rear lane, to create a public gathering space. When it comes to a lack of public spaces, West Jasper Place is long suffering, having lost park space to the creation of Grant MacEwan College, which was never replaced. This isn’t a replacement for that by any means, but it is a unique way of creating an outdoor amenity for the community.
In terms of building community pride in the area, and attracting investment, both financial and emotional, this is a strong beginning, albeit years overdue.