Un­der­pass plan would de­stroy busi­nesses, own­ers say

En­trepreneurs, res­i­dents seek an­swers from city

Edmonton Journal - - CITY - ELISE STOLTE es­tolte@post­media.com twit­ter.com/es­tolte

Res­i­dents and busi­ness own­ers packed the West Jasper Sher­wood Com­mu­nity League hall Tues­day evening, some near tears as they ar­gued against a new un­der­pass.

The 149 Street un­der­pass would al­low the pro­posed west LRT to re­main at grade along Stony Plain Road, while mit­i­gat­ing traf­fic im­pacts at the busy in­ter­sec­tion. But it would re­quire ex­tra land to the west of 149 Street, putting up to 20 busi­nesses and a three-storey apart­ment build­ing at risk.

That’s in ad­di­tion to the 13 homes and 20 busi­nesses threat­ened by the city’s ini­tial land ac­qui­si­tion lists for the west LRT line.

“This is my to­tal life. This is my in­vest­ment, my ev­ery­thing,” said Klarice Mon­a­han, owner of Pet Planet, who said the 10-year-old busi­ness al­lowed her to raise her two chil­dren on her own.

She was one of sev­eral busi­ness own­ers who spoke at the town hall­style meet­ing or­ga­nized by the com­mu­nity to get more an­swers.

“How is the city go­ing to help me with this?” she asked.

Ward 1 Coun. An­drew Knack said he doesn’t have details re­gard­ing the land ac­qui­si­tion process yet, or what help might be avail­able for busi­nesses look­ing to re­lo­cate.

He hopes it doesn’t come to that. Now that he knows how much land would be nec­es­sary for the un­der­pass op­tion, Knack said he hopes an al­ter­na­tive will be found.

Lo­cal busi­nesses are sug­gest­ing the city leave both the train and road at grade, then solve the traf­fic is­sue by mak­ing both Stony Plain Road and the par­al­lel route, 100 Av­enue, into one-way roads.

City of­fi­cials are in­ves­ti­gat­ing that op­tion, too.

All op­tions will go to a pub­lic hear­ing and de­bate at city coun­cil March 21.

About 200 peo­ple packed the com­mu­nity league hall, ask­ing ques­tions to sev­eral city of­fi­cials and three coun­cil­lors — Knack, Mike Nickel and Tim Cart­mell.

Some res­i­dents sim­ply wanted to ex­press their con­cerns, wor­ried the LRT will re­move lo­cal shops and ser­vices they de­pend on.

“I’m con­cerned for all the frag­ile peo­ple in our build­ing,” said Shirley K. Stevenson, a se­nior liv­ing in Te­gler Ter­race, just south of the im­pacted land.

She de­pends on the bus route that stops in front of her build­ing. Buses have stops ev­ery two blocks, rather than the six or more blocks be­tween LRT stops, she said, and many se­niors moved to the area be­cause they need easy walk­ing ac­cess to the gro­cery store and bank.

Fabu­tan owner Todd Lutz said clos­ing busi­nesses isn’t just about the own­ers, it’s about more than 100 em­ploy­ees, as well.

City coun­cil asked ad­min­is­tra­tion to look at grade sep­a­ra­tion op­tions for the Stony Plain Road and 149 Street in­ter­sec­tion after see­ing the traf­fic im­pacts of the Metro Line.

The city is cur­rently up­dat­ing the con­cept de­sign to be ready to go to ten­der for the west ex­ten­sion later this year, if fund­ing is in the spring provin­cial bud­get.

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