Reclaiming Edmonton’s Lost Spaces: Alley of Light

A couple of weeks ago I linked to the Edmonton on the Edge website, after I had come across their page on “reclaiming lost spaces”. The organization, which consists of members from the University of Alberta, Edmonton Design Committee, ISL Engineering, Edmonton Federation of Community Leagues, and M.A.D.E. in Edmonton, among others, recently explored the idea of reclaiming two of Edmonton’s lost spaces: the alley behind Sobeys on 104 Street, and the alley behind the Melton Building on 103 Street. They settled on the alley behind Sobeys, and worked with around 40 individuals from the area to start imagining how the space could be transformed.

The project, led by former City Councillor Michael Phair and EIDOS Landscape Architect Peter Spearey, has been dubbed the “Alley of Light” and there’s an open house coming up on Sunday, December 5 for anyone interested to provide input. I live less than a block away from the alley, so I’m excited about the opportunity to help transform it into something more. Here’s what the alley looked like tonight:

Alley of Light

You can see that it is dark, and not exactly inviting. Even during the day, the alley does not “create a sense of ownership and pride amongst community members”, one of the goals of the Reclaiming Lost Spaces project. Aside from the Christmas lights in the tree nearest to the street, there’s not much there. Though I wasn’t sure what to make of them at first, the red illuminated cones outside Lit are a welcome addition to the street. They add some color and, well, some light!

Aside from Lit, one of the first things that came to mind for me when I heard the name “Alley of Light” was the Illuminate Yaletown event that I went to in Vancouver last year. It featured some impressive light-as-art installations, like this one:

Illuminate Yaletown

I’d love to see some improvements to the alley that would work both during the day and at night. Think of a water installation during the day that becomes illuminated at night, something like that. It’s a little difficult to see in this photo, but even during daytime events such as Al Fresco the space is underutilized at the moment. It would be great for the space to be welcoming both day and night.

Here’s one idea for the alley:

Alley of Light

The main idea there is the beams of light extending from the Sobeys building, as well as getting rid of the fence and smoothing out the park. There are all kinds of opportunities, and if you’d like to see some more or even provide your own, I encourage you to come to the open house:

WHO: You and your friends!
WHAT: Alley of Light Open House
WHEN: Sunday, December 5 from 2pm to 4pm
WHERE: Enterprise Square, Main Atrium
WHY: To help reclaim one of Edmonton’s lost spaces!

Next steps and additional information will be provided at the open house. Anyone and everyone is invited, so spread the word!

8 thoughts on “Reclaiming Edmonton’s Lost Spaces: Alley of Light

  1. I’m actually pretty excited about this! I’ve been by this alley a few times, and have always marvelled at this little piece of forgotten land. My hope is that this project is successful and encourages other areas and alleys to improve their spaces as well.

  2. I like the goal of this idea — but I’d like it even more if the concept drawings were winter scenes, since that’s what it will be like most of the time. (In fairness, the one based on photos of leafless trees fits the bill.)

  3. Me too Brit!

    Martin: the poster for the open house (which I didn’t include here) features a very large winter scene, and I hope others will pick up on that idea because I agree with you, it’s important!

  4. The most powerful change represented here is opening the facade to the greenspace, which will increase safety and encourage citizens to venture in and thugs to get lost. Is this building’s owner guaranteed that it will remain greenspace?
    Perhaps a groundcover that does not require mowing and stays green longer would be more appropriate than turf.
    Light as art is an easily achievable goal (with a small carbon footprint) to brighten our long winter nights – I will call 311 to support it here and throughout downtown!

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