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City considering full traffic closure in front of Old Strathcona Farmers’ Market

The busy avenue in front of the Old Strathcona Farmers’ Market could one day be permanently closed to vehicle traffic as the City looks for ways to revitalize the area.

The City is looking for feedback, all part of the Old Strathcona Public Realm Strategy where the City has Seven key recommendations to add vibrancy to the area and create more public spaces like parks.

“If you look around, there’s new construction all over. Those people need green spaces, they need spaces to walk, to play, to go,” explained Michael Janz, Edmonton City Councillor.

Edmontonians are used to seeing temporary closures on the avenue between Gateway Boulevard and Calgary Trail, for events like the Fringe Festival. But a more permanent closure, brings some concerns.

Road in front of the Old Strathcona Farmers’ Market. (Photo Credit: Laura Krause, CityNews)

The Old Strathcona Farmers’ Market says a road closure could mean vendors no longer have access to easily load and unload their products.

“We’ve got farmers that come to the market with pallets and pallets of fresh vegetables and fruit that it would be impossible for them to hand-bob it over the curb and into the building, so right now we are looking into the possibility of having another overhead door on the side so that our trucks can come in there and offload their fresh fruits and vegetables,” said Corinne Olsen, market manager with Old Strathcona Farmers’ Market.

“We’re not opposed to the change because we like the idea of the opportunity to have this vibrancy right outside our front door, but its just us having to pivot, having to make these changes to make it easier. Without those farmers coming into the market, we would not be a farmers’ market.”

Across the street, an artistic director at Shadow Theatre is raising concerns about accessibility.

“I don’t feel the need to close it to vehicles,” said John Hudson, an artistic director with Shadow Theatre.

“Our concern is accessibility. We have a lot of older clients and patrons, and a lot of people with mobility issues. And how do they get to the theatre then? Right, if the road is closed off, where is our accessible entrance into our building?”

The councillor for the area expresses the same concerns, he there are conversations worth having, and says the idea is still in the early days.

“It’s just a plan. It has to be funded. We have to have the money to do it and this plan would have to be sequenced. So any new development, any new changes, any new road closures would be quite a long way away,” said Janz.

The City is now in its third and final phase of engagement. Edmontonians have until April 7th to provide their feedback. 

Feedback gathered will be brought to the council’s Urban Planning Committee in August.

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