Mak­ing the con­nec­tion

A group of creative pro­fes­sion­als have a vi­sion to con­nect Ed­mon­ton’s down­town with Old Strath­cona. They’re call­ing it the High Level Line project. The goal: To en­joy a jour­ney through the city, rather than just trav­el­ling from A to B.

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A group of Ed­mon­to­ni­ans have pitched an am­bi­tious idea to use green space to link down­town with Old Strath­cona.

The High Level Line project, which would see a 4.3-kilo­me­tre strip of park­land run from north of Jasper Ave to Whyte Av­enue, is the brain­child of a group of ar­chi­tects, land­scape ar­chi­tects, engi­neers and ur­ban plan­ners.

“The river val­ley, as amaz­ing and beau­ti­ful as it is, has long acted as a bar­rier be­tween those two ar­eas,” said land­scape ar­chi­tect Kevin Di­eter­man.

“So we stud­ied achiev­ing that con­nec­tiv­ity.”

So far, the High Level Line is just an idea, and they don’t know how much it would cost or how it would be built. For now, they want Ed­mon­to­ni­ans to think about it.

“We are re­ally just in­ter­ested in gen­er­at­ing a con­ver­sa­tion about the idea and get­ting the idea out there and hav­ing peo­ple con­trib­ute to it, add to it and test whether this is a great so­lu­tion for Ed­mon­ton,” Di­eter­man said.

“We are just draw­ing this out there like, ‘Hey, wouldn’t it be cool if Ed­mon­ton looked like this?’” he said.

The group launched a new web­site de­voted to the idea Wed­nes­day, that shows the pro­posed path­way start­ing near MacEwan, be­fore cross­ing Rail­town Green and Jasper Av­enue, cross­ing the High Level Bridge and go­ing through the Garneau tun­nel, and end­ing up at Whyte Av­enue.

They also sug­gest hav­ing shacks at dif­fer­ent points on the path­way, sell­ing ice cream in sum­mer and hot choco­late in winter, or other ameni­ties like wash­rooms and sports equip­ment rentals.

The idea is to get peo­ple to ex­pe­ri­ence their sur­round­ings in­stead of just pass­ing through them, ac­cord­ing to Michael Zabin­ski, an­other of the project’s ar­chi­tects.

“We are all try­ing to get from point A to point B in as lit­tle time as pos­si­ble, but there is so much along the way that we miss by do­ing that,” he said.

“I think it’s a very Ed­mon­ton project. I think the in­fras­truc­tre is so unique to the city, the geog­ra­phy that is so unique to the city. It’s very Ed­mon­to­nian,” he said.

Mayor Don Ive­son said the project might have “po­ten­tial,” de­spite the hur­dles.

“I think I see more po­ten­tial than I see bar­ri­ers,” he told Metro.

While it would no doubt come with a hefty price tag, he said de­sign­ers could look at fundrais­ing or spon­sor­ships to off­set costs.

“There are still bar­ri­ers, there are cost is­sues, there are fea­si­bil­ity is­sues, but if we re­ally want to dive into those and take a se­ri­ous look at this pro­posal...

“I just think it would be a stun­ning way to con­nect our two busiest and dens­est cul­tural and eco­nomic nodes.”

It would be a stun­ning way to con­nect our two busiest and dens­est cul­tural and eco­nomic nodes. Mayor don Ive­son

/Metro Web Up­load

The pro­posed High Level Line Project aims to con­nect down­town Ed­mon­ton with South.

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