Poor Jasper Avenue, Rossdale Land Sale, Star Wars in Edmonton

Here’s the latest entry in my Edmonton Etcetera series, in which I share some thoughts on a few topical items in one post. Less than I’d write in a full post on each, but more than I’d include in Edmonton Notes. Have feedback? Let me know!

A new vision for Jasper Avenue

Back in May 2009, I attended the first open house for the Jasper Avenue New Vision project. Then in November of that year, a more in-depth open house was held at Enterprise Square. Six years later, only a tiny portion of that vision has come to life between 100 Street and 102 Street. The original project was meant to cover Jasper Avenue between 97 Street and 111 Street. In theory that work will still get done, but don’t hold your breath! Already the City is conducting public engagement on the rest of Jasper Avenue, west of 109 Street. I guess that makes sense, given how long it has taken them to get to this point, but wouldn’t it be nice if we could finish the original project first?

Cyclist, Jasper Avenue, March 22. 2015
Cyclist, Jasper Avenue, March 22. 2015, photo by More Bike Lanes Please

Here’s what a recent Edmonton Journal editorial said about our city’s main street:

“Pity poor Jasper Avenue. It has always been the canary in the recessionary coal mine in our city — it can go downhill very quickly when the economy softens. The signs are there already, bringing back echoes of Edmonton’s bad old reputation as Deadmonton.”

In general I agree with Paul who wrote in response that “the sense of doom and gloom is overstated and unhelpful.” Yes there are empty spaces along Jasper Avenue that badly need to be filled, but there are plenty of examples of positive changes to the street too.

Filling those spaces is important but it’s not enough. What Jasper Avenue could really benefit from is a reduction in traffic lanes and wider sidewalks throughout, not just around 101 Street. Here’s what I wrote back in 2009:

“Almost every feature of Jasper Avenue is geared toward vehicle traffic. Any redevelopment needs to shift the focus to pedestrian traffic.”

Sadly, not much has changed.

Rossdale land sale to the Province

Council voted this week to move forward with negotiations to sell a block of land in Rossdale to the Province for about $13 million. The land, located southwest of 96 Avenue and 105 Street, is considered “surplus to municipal requirements” and is currently vacant park land with just four houses. The Province wants the land so that it can “restrict development on these lands to protect the view corridor to the legislature from the bridge crossing.”

The problem is that the City’s West Rossdale Urban Design Plan aims to “create a complete, mixed-use, highly liveable, walkable, and sustainable community” that could be home to 4,500 people. Council feels that the money isn’t the problem anymore (the $13 million is apparently market rate) but they are concerned about fit with the urban design plan. If the Province won’t allow any development on the land, that could be an issue.

The West Rossdale plan does include a recommendation to “reserve and enhance view corridors” so that part is aligned at least.

Star Wars in Edmonton

Forget Christmas, Star Wars is what everyone is talking about right now. And that means the media are looking for local angles to basically tell the same story as every other news organization in the world right now: people are excited for this movie! And why not, the reviews sound incredibly positive.

South Edmonton Common’s Cineplex theatre is one of six across Canada offering a Star Wars movie marathon where fans can watch the original six films before seeing the new one. Good luck getting tickets though, as well over 6000 tickets had already been sold at the southside theatre by Monday. Still, five of the theatre’s sixteen screens will be showing the new Star Wars movie. On Friday, The Force Awakens will play 103 times in Cineplex theatres throughout Edmonton.

So we know it’s going to be a big deal. If you’re going to wait a few days to watch it, then you can read about it in the meantime. Here is 5 ways to “find the Force” from an Edmonton Star Wars superfan, and of course there are interviews with lots of other Star Wars superfans. Here’s a sneak peek at the movie from an official Star Wars artist who lives right here in Edmonton. Even Paula decided to write about Star Wars this week! If you’re looking for a primer on what happened after Return of the Jedi, read this.

May the force be with you!

  • Based on the fact that I can beat buses on Jasper by foot EVERY RUSH HOUR in both directions, I’d rather see bus lanes than wider sidewalks on Jasper Av. Even in the summer time, the new wide sidewalks weren’t utilized enough to warrant a that kind up upgrade to both sides.