Underpass plan would destroy businesses, owners say
Entrepreneurs, residents seek answers from city
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.