As I was walking in Strathearn, Edmonton yesterday, I discovered an interesting protest. Outside of a small strip mall there were wheelchairs, walkers, canes, strollers, children’s tricycles, and crutches on display. There was also a tent on which I was invited to put my signature in support of the protest.
In order to understand how this display of aids to mobility came about, it helps to see the location from an aerial perspective.
The strip mall stands at the intersection of 95 Avenue and 92 Street. Directly opposite is a large seniors’ housing facility, Montgomery Place. Between the two is a crosswalk. This is how the mall appeared to crosswalk users in June 2018:
Then work began on a new light rail line and that section of 95 Avenue, including the mall’s service road, was dug up.
After the construction work was completed the transportation company, TransEd, did not replace the service road. Instead they added a row of shrubs and a sidewalk next to 95 Avenue, and they put gravel in the space between it and the strip mall’s sidewalk. The plan, they said, was to put grass in there. As you can imagine, this did not go down well with either the seniors who live across the street or parents with small children who live in the neighbourhood.
In August, their concerns came to the attention of local media and, in the CBC’s article a representative of TransEd, Dallas Lindskoog, said “the plan for the corner balances the need for accessibility and connectivity” with enhanced landscaping and urban design along the whole Valley Line route. Apparently, people who have problems with balance beg to differ.
I hope that the needs of the neighbourhood will ultimately outweigh the aesthetic perceptions of the TransEd urban designers. In the mean time, it continues to be inconvenient and sometimes treacherous.