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Parks, plazas and shared-used streets: How Edmonton wants to redesign Whyte Avenue

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Whyte Avenue, both the roadway and the area, could look a whole lot different in the coming years if the City of Edmonton moves ahead with new designs released Monday.

The concepts include removing lanes of traffic, turning parking lots into parks and adding dedicated transit lanes down the centre of the avenue.

"We've heard from people that they wanted open space, more parks, they wanted greater connectivity across the neighbourhood," planner and project manager Marco Melfi told CTV News Edmonton Tuesday.

"We also heard that people would like to see some of that public land considered for affordable housing, or some residential buildings. So our options show that variety."

The city is planning to rebuild the avenue from 109 Street to 99 Street. All of the design possibilities include making the sidewalks on the main strip wider.

Design renderings for a rebuild of Whyte Avenue in Edmonton as part of the Old Strathcona Public Realm Strategy (OSPRS). (Source: City of Edmonton)

Design renderings for a rebuild of Whyte Avenue in Edmonton as part of the Old Strathcona Public Realm Strategy (OSPRS). (Source: City of Edmonton)

The design and consultation is being done as part of the Old Strathcona Public Realm Strategy (OSPRS).

It also includes three design options for new parks, plazas and shared-use streets along Gateway Boulevard and Calgary Trail north of Whyte.

Under all three options, gravel and paved parking lots near the Old Strathcona Farmer's Market would be removed for a mix of park and plaza space.

Design renderings for a rebuild of the Whyte Avenue area in Edmonton as part of the Old Strathcona Public Realm Strategy (OSPRS). (Source: City of Edmonton)

Only one of the options for rebuilding sections of Whyte Avenue includes parking and drop-off spots along the main strip. Instead trees, benches and lighting are likely to be added.

Three of the section scenarios see one lane of traffic only in each direction. Some of the road may have some parking spots or a left-turn lane in what the design refers to as "flex space."

Design renderings for a rebuild of Whyte Avenue in Edmonton as part of the Old Strathcona Public Realm Strategy (OSPRS). (Source: City of Edmonton)

Design renderings for a rebuild of Whyte Avenue in Edmonton as part of the Old Strathcona Public Realm Strategy (OSPRS). (Source: City of Edmonton)"Parking will be a concern but there is also a lot of parking in the area," Melfi said, adding that 50 per cent of the people surveyed so far make their way to Whyte without using a car.

Melfi said the designs will make it easier and more pleasant for walkers and transit users.

"We know that we need to add more space to our sidewalks. The sidewalk width is quite narrow. I'm sure if you've been on Whyte Ave you can feel that it's a bit narrow," he said.

The cost and construction timelines still have not been determined. The city started public engagement on the redesign last summer and refining the designs will continue into this summer.

The city has an online survey until March 5 and is hosting a drop-in event in the area on March 2.

With files from CTV News Edmonton's Matt Woodman

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