A boulevard fit for a capital

I have lived in Edmonton for 3 years now (as of October 4th) in the downtown area.  I also work on 108th street, so I have witnessed the slow-moving change that has occurred over the past years as aged trees were cut down and streets were barricaded in lieu of widening, all part of the City’s grand Capital Boulevard plans.  Say what you will about the designs, I believe any change is a step in a positive direction.

The City’s plan cites the development as a means to:

advance the goal of creating a vibrant, well designed, sustainable and accessible downtown. 

When completed the street will feature:

  • broad tree-lined sidewalks (well… the ones that are left)
  • enhanced road and sidewalk lighting (that will be a great improvement on the pedestrian lighting that was accidentally turned around this weekend)
  • mid-block pedestrian crossings (oops I already do that)
  • high quality street furnishings (in Architecture I believe these are call gob-ons)
Joking aside, I think this design has real potential.  Walking down 108, when you can see the Legislature from a distance it does seem grand.  I am not a huge fan of the futuristic artwork in the plan, but an autocad drawing or artistic rendering is just that – a possibility of what could be.  And I think it could be a great thing for Edmonton.  They also state that the plan will attract investments; I hope in the form of boutique stores and locally owned coffee shops.
Since I lived in the UK for a year and a half I have longed for that same sense of walkability.  Stepping in and out of stores, stopping for a bite to eat and later hailing a cab (not my own vehicle occupying a cement pad somewhere in the downtown) to take me home at the end of the night.  I don’t think that an arena is the sole way to bring life to the downtown.  Sure, it can be one of many venues, but a vibrant downtown has many layers, good and bad, that give it charisma.
What are your visions for Edmonton’s downtown? How do you feel about the plan.

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