Why I’m excited for the Southeast LRT

Now that I’ve had a chance to think and talk to a few people about yesterday’s LRT route announcements, there is one aspect in particular of the Southeast LRT route that I am quite excited about.

Can this:

Pic of the Day #965 by Kenneth Hynek

Go with these?

Fall Photowalk in EdmontonMuttart - May 12 024 - by A.N.U.J

I think the answer is a big yes (minus the high-floor, underground, elaborate stations…low-floor FTW).

If you look closely at the recommended route for the Southeast LRT corridor, you’ll notice that it goes from downtown through Louise McKinney Riverfront Park and across the river to the Muttart Conservatory (where there should be a stop).

Did you catch that? The LRT will go through the crown jewel of Edmonton, the river valley!

A low-floor, urban style LRT route from downtown through the river valley opens the door to all kinds of possibilities. Most obviously, it makes the river valley accessible to all – no more talk of building an incredibly expensive funicular. More significantly, it creates the potential for some development along the river valley. Think riverfront restaurants, pubs, and other attractions. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t want to turn our river valley into an outdoor West Edmonton Mall or anything like that, but I do think that we often fail to make the most of what is perhaps our best asset. I think an LRT stop at the Muttart Conservatory could spur a number of interesting ideas and concepts.

Now to be clear, this isn’t guaranteed to happen. They could still switch the stations or even potentially the route. And I don’t know how they plan to get from downtown down to the river. There are a lot of unknowns. Still, I think the potential for this is incredible. That’s why I’m excited about the Southeast LRT route, and why I think you should be too!

Photo credits: A.N.U.J, mastermaq, Kenneth Hynek

8 thoughts on “Why I’m excited for the Southeast LRT

  1. As long as they don’t allow the developers to go crazy, I think a bit of riverfront property—restaurants and, perhaps, even a bit of retail space—would help make Edmonton a nicer place to live.

    However, my point about not letting the developers go crazy is an important one. That we have largely left the river valley untouched is part of its appeal. It’s important for cities to have green spaces, and the fact that you can escape to one of the river valley parks and almost forget that you’re still in the city is something worth preserving.

  2. MM you are on to something with your vision for SE LRT. Currently, river valley completely bereft of food and beverage amenities.

    Such development need be designed to accommodate Small pubs, Wine bars, non chain coffee shops, and local cuisine.

    Suspect environmentalists will protest loud and long that valley should remain pristine, unsullied by commerce.

    If one thinks to the history of the valley it was all commerce, in the beginning.

    If river valley is more accessible perhaps more opportunities for events like this weekend’s Symphony in the Park.

    Wonder how many big thinkers there are out there?

  3. Bruce – I’ve heard lots of talk recently about doing something in the river valley actually, so I’m optimistic! You make an interesting point about commerce in the beginning.

  4. This excites me too.

    (Although it doesn’t look like much help for disabled/bike/stroller access to Louise McKinney off Jasper – but an upgrade at the Shaw can accomplish that.)

    Here’s what I like about it – improved access to the Folk Fest reducing the ludicrous drive/drop off traffic that happens now and is so disruptive to Cloverdale residents. And access to the Edmonton Ski Club, a sorely underused facility that should be better serving our inner city. Access to the new stage in Louise McKinney – a great facility.

    Adam, as for development going crazy – there are miles and miles and miles of river valley still largely untouched – even right now there are lots trails within a 10 minute walk of the downtown that are nothing more than a path through the bush along a river bank that looks much like it did 100 years ago. Many of our green spaces are underused – even Louise McKinney is empty more than it is full. I’ve been there many times and been the only person I can see in the park. (Actually, it’s better used by the homeless and barely housed population immediately north than by any other demographic.)

  5. Oh, hah, Bruce, you are right, I am wrong. *Now* it appears to be largely untouched river valley, but 100 years ago, those paths passed by homes, stores, a ferry, a lumber yard, a brick yard, coal mines. 🙂

  6. @Bruce

    One of those environmentalists here…the river valley shouldn’t have the development of more bars and restaurants. We have a huge amount of bars and restuants that are in close proximity(downtown and Sask Dr.) to the river valley already. I am sure these establishments already service the need quite well already.

    What I do want to stress is that the river valley is some citizens backyard; where they come to play, relax and socalize. There are so many high rises that don’t have green space and the river valley serves as their oasis. More development/commercialization is just intrusive to these experiences. If you need an example look at Banff…great scenery if you can see through the crowds.

  7. I think that development down there would be ok if there were strict guidelines about the size and capacity of the new shops and restaurants. I think that access to the MUttart is excellent, and the Folk Fest is just one reason for that. It would definitely change the way that people used that area, but it has to be done carefully, because people do live there, and it is their neighbourhood too.

    I do think it might also make sense to run the line down Scona Road from the Muttart, rather than over to 75th street right away, for better access from downtown to Whyte Ave that doesn’t involve the High Level Bridge and then down 82nd Ave towards 75th street.

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