TOO TRANS­FORM­ING

Some Ada Boule­vard res­i­dents say city is go­ing too far with re­newal project

Edmonton Sun - - NEWS - LIANE Faulder @liane­faul­der

A group of High­lands res­i­dents says new curbs pro­posed for Ada Boule­vard will dis­turb the area’s his­toric ap­peal.

Called Friends of High­lands, the group wants the city to re­con­sider a plan to square off swoop­ing, curved side­walk cor­ners that are a sig­na­ture of the neigh­bour­hood, a plan that will re­sult in nar­rower streets in ar­eas now pop­u­lar for walk­ers, jog­gers and cy­clists en­joy­ing a day in the river val­ley.

“We are 100 years old and we are say­ing, ‘Can we not keep the his­tor­i­cal look?’” said Jeff Young, a 30-year res­i­dent of the area who lives at Ada Boule­vard and 61 Street.

The Ed­mon­ton and Dis­trict His­tor­i­cal So­ci­ety, the city’s his­to­rian lau­re­ate Mar­lena Wy­man, and the High­lands His­tor­i­cal So­ci­ety have backed the group’s re­quest for a se­cond look.

Af­ter ex­ten­sive com­mu­nity con­sul­ta­tion and ac­cord­ing to a June city ad­min­is­tra­tion re­port ti­tled What We De­cided, a neigh­bour­hood re­newal plan has been ap­proved and is un­der­way to re­build roads, side­walks, street lights and park spa­ces in High­lands.

The plan, which started this year and is sched­uled for com­ple­tion in 2021, in­cludes the in­stal­la­tion of a wheel­chair-ac­ces­si­ble, three-me­tre wide, as­phalt shared path­way rimmed by a wood rail­ing that would run on the south (ravine) side of the street, east along Ada Boule­vard from Con­cor­dia Uni­ver­sity.

Young, along with roughly 55 other neigh­bours, met re­cently over a va­ri­ety of con­cerns about the plan, in­clud­ing park­ing and the fact that the new path­way will see some res­i­dents on the north side of Ada Boule­vard sacrifice roughly a me­tre along the edge of their prop­erty to the shared path­way.

Friends of High­lands says it ap­pre­ci­ates safety con­cerns and doesn’t ob­ject to the path­way, but re­quests it be a max­i­mum of two me­tres in width.

Ada Boule­vard, renowned for its ar­chi­tec­tural style and streetscap­es and con­sid­ered a jewel in Ed­mon­ton’s his­tor­i­cal crown, doesn’t have side­walks.

Young said neigh­bours knew re­con­fig­ured street cor­ners were part of the plan. But two months ago, af­ter he mea­sured out, and spray painted, the pro­posed con­fig­u­ra­tion in a six-block ra­dius in­clud­ing 111 Av­enue, the visual im­pact be­came clear.

The group is ask­ing for roughly 22 cor­ners of the 246 cor­ners in High­lands to be left as is.

Young’s group has dis­trib­uted more than 500 in­for­ma­tion fly­ers in the area and has been try­ing to meet with Ward 7 city Coun. Tony Ca­te­rina. Ca­te­rina did not re­turn Post­media phone calls over the week­end.

“I find it so dis­heart­en­ing to try and get any­body to lis­ten to us,” said Young.

Other peo­ple in the neigh­bour­hood are happy with the pro­posed changes.

Mathieu Le­feb­vre has lived in High­lands for five years. He at­tended sev­eral com­mu­nity con­sul­ta­tion ses­sions hosted by the city. He said Ada Boule­vard will be safer for pedes­tri­ans and cy­clists with the shared path­way.

“The is­sue is that some peo­ple like the way that it is, plain and sim­ple,” said Le­feb­vre. “But the big­gest thing is the safety is­sue. When you walk down Ada Boule­vard, cars are driv­ing slowly and you move out of the way and gen­er­ally it is po­lite.

“But it’s not hand­i­capped ac­ces­si­ble and there are slips and trips and other hazards. I think (the shared path­way) just pro­vides an im­prove­ment of qual­ity of place, and life, and it ben­e­fits ev­ery­one.”

An­drew Clark is the pres­i­dent of the High­lands com­mu­nity league. He said the com­mu­nity league is neu­tral on this is­sue.

“We’ve heard ar­gu­ments on both sides. It’s a di­vi­sive is­sue. We wish it wasn’t,” said Clark.

Larry WONG/POST­MEDIA

Jeff Young is among a group of High­lands res­i­dents ob­ject­ing to the city’s plan for neigh­bour­hood re­newal on Ada Boule­vard. They don’t want some rounded cor­ners squared off and they don’t want a wide path to be in­stalled.

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