EDMONTON -- With fewer cars on the road during the COVID-19 pandemic, one councillor is proposing an idea to get more Edmontonians out for fresh air while maintaining a physical distance: turning roads into sidewalks.

Governments and health officials are asking Canadians to stay home to prevent more spread of the novel coronavirus.

However, Dr. Deena Hinshaw, Alberta's chief medical officer of health, is recommending walks and exercise as an essential way to stay healthy, physically and mentally, during the pandemic, as long as that physical distance is kept.


Staying two metres away from other people on sidewalks and shared paths can be difficult, so Ward 1 Coun. Andrew Knack wants the city to turn some curb lanes into areas for pedestrians to walk on during the pandemic.

"Our infrastructure currently isn't set up for people to be able to take walks and maintain that proper physical distance," Knack told CTV News Edmonton.

"Maybe just allow people to say, 'Yeah, you're allowed to go jog on the roadway instead of being on the sidewalk if you want within a community. That's a fairly simple and easy thing."

About 10 days ago in Calgary, after blatant disrespect for physical distancing rules during one warm weekend, the city turned curb lanes along some popular roads into pedestrian paths.

Knack says Edmonton could put pylons and signs on main roads and receive city manager approval to allow it in neighbourhoods.

Advocacy group Paths for People is also pushing for this change.

"What we're really wanting to see is that the streets are given back to people," said Sarah Hoyles.

City of Edmonton staff told CTV News it is aware of the proposal.

With files from CTV News Edmonton's Jeremy Thompson