City checks in with residents on renewal

Elmwood Park and Eastwood renewal team share design with residents

After a year of collecting public feedback, the City’s Great Neighbourhoods team has pulled together a design for infrastructure renewal in Elmwood Park and Eastwood.  

The design, still considered a proposal, was shared with residents at two drop-in evenings in October and November. The City sought feedback in three areas: parks, bike routes, and pathways.

Building Great Neighbourhoods was formed to take a different approach to neighbourhood renewal, explains Jen Rutledge, supervisor of planning and development. 

One of the design features for Eastwood Park. | Kate Wilson

“Before, the focus had been street lights, sidewalks, roads. Now we’re taking into account things like parks and open spaces, bike routes,” she says. “Our approach is to take a look at the neighbourhood and listen to people, see what they value [because they] live here and work here.”

The end goal is to ensure Edmonton’s mature neighbourhoods are in good shape by 2039.

Residents of the two communities gave their input at two drop-in sessions in May, as well as online and even by phone to the project manager. The project team also consulted agencies such as local police and did a walk-around with residents last fall. 

Janis Irwin, MLA for Highlands-Norwood, discusses improvement plans for James Kidney Park with Dnyanesh Deshpande, one of the city’s project team members. Renewal proposals for Elmwood Park and Eastwood were shared with the public at Eastwood Community Hall on Nov. 7, the city’s last open house before finalizing the renewal design. | Kate Wilson

“The communities saw the importance of accessibility, connectivity, and also [had] a lot of pride in the natural beauty, the parks, the trees,” says Rutledge. 

The design includes adjustments to align with citizen and police concerns about attracting unwanted or illicit activities in some locations. Proper lighting and line of sight need to be taken into account.

“Always, if you create a space, you have to be very thoughtful about what kind of activity you are attracting. We hear that a lot in other neighbourhoods as well.”

Benches are not included in James Kidney Park due to a past history of illicit activities associated with benches there. The proposal includes a pathway, lighting, new shrubs, and landscaping at both ends, but no gathering spaces. 

A proposed bike and pedestrian route garners some comments. | Kate Wilson

A possible toboggan hill at the north end of Eastwood Park was another concern. While it was favoured by some residents to encourage winter activity, others were worried about a return of illicit activity behind the hill. 

One citizen noted that the hill was a gathering place for soliciting and drug dealing before it was removed in the early 2000s. The team is looking into building a soccer field instead.

For the small park at 123 Avenue in Elmwood Park, most citizens did not favour closure of the 75 Street access, in order to keep access to Fort Road. The City’s proposal is to extend the park to the north by closing 123 Avenue between 76 Street and Fort Road. Access to Fort Road at 76 and 75 Street will be maintained, but realigned for safety.   

Another issue that garnered lots of feedback was bike routes, with key concerns being on-street parking and that the number of bike users doesn’t justify the expense. 

The drop-in sessions were a good opportunity to get feedback from community residents. | Kate Wilson

The design proposal includes a bike route along 119 Avenue between 89 Street and the shared-use path at 75 Street, and two one-way bike lanes from 89 to 86 Street. Parking will be maintained where possible, and continue to be reviewed.

“We’re excited to show what we are proposing based on public input,” says Rutledge. “This is a check-in. Did we get it right?”

The project team is reviewing all final feedback before finalizing the design. It should be ready and shared with both communities in the spring. The full What We Heard/What We Considered report is available on edmonton.ca/BuildingEastwoodElmwoodPark.


FOR YOUR INFO

The City pays for neighbourhood renewal from a reserve fund; however, there are cost-sharing items such as decorative street lighting and sidewalk reconstruction. Those costs are shared between the City and property owners adjacent to or near the local improvement.

All property owners have the right to petition against a local improvement. Tax payers in the neighbourhood have one more chance to petition against a local improvement when local improvement tax notices are sent out in the new year. 

Construction of Elmwood Park and Eastwood renewal starts next spring and continues over the following two years. It includes road rehabilitation, street lighting, curb and gutter repairs, and connecting missing sidewalk links where possible.


Featured Image: Janis Irwin, MLA for Highlands-Norwood, discusses implications of neighbourhood renewal with Dnyanesh Deshpande, a member of the city’s project team. | Kate Wilson

Kate Wilson

Kate took up the reporter's pad and pen while living in northern Alberta. The writing bug stuck, and the next 20 years were spent covering everything from local politics to community happenings. She lives in Alberta Avenue with her daughter.

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