Jasper Avenue has been recognized as Edmonton’s Main street for over a hundred years, and holds a unique and interesting history, tied to the evolution and growth of western Canada.
Jasper Avenue: Edmonton’s Historic Main Street
- 1871- Jasper Avenue emerged as Edmonton’s main street
- 1912– The amalgamation of Edmonton and Strathcona meant Whyte Avenue and Jasper Avenue began sharing the title of Edmonton’s largest, most bustling street.
- 1930s- Jasper Avenue continued to gain strength as a commercial centre with the support of streetcars and motorized vehicles
- 1985- Jasper Avenue saw a series of public investment initiatives, including the underground LRT.
- 2004- The historic significance of Jasper Avenue became recognized and the block was designated as a municipal historic resource.
Although Jasper Avenue is still considered a popular street in Edmonton, it has become a busier, more vehicle-focused route for commuters into the City’s downtown. This shift in focus helped spark the Imagine Jasper Avenue Project – the goal is to create a vibrant, all-seasons destination.
“We want to create a public space where people can linger and have fun,” comments Facility and Capital Planning Project Manager, Satya Gadidasu. “We’re working closely with City Council, other City departments, area businesses and residents to create a design that balances the needs of all users, giving the pedestrian experience top priority.”
Main Streets Guideline
Aligning to the Main Streets Guideline, created in 2015, the Imagine Jasper Avenue project will improve the pedestrian experience through design changes by:
- providing additional space for street furniture or landscaping
- creating a buffer between pedestrians and traffic
- enticing people to linger on the street by widening the sidewalks and making the area more user-friendly
Redesigning a street to comply with the Main Streets Guideline sets the stage for economic development and growth over the long term. A well-designed Main Street attracts a diversity of active land uses such as retail, restaurants, entertainment, services and civic. These different uses also contribute to generating pedestrian activity and increasing the attractiveness of Main Streets as destinations for people throughout the day and night.
“We are confident that many benefits will come as a result of this policy update because, as a Main Street, streets like Jasper Avenue will become a transportation link as well as a destination that has a tie to business and community revitalization,” said Gadidasu.
Frame Jasper Avenue
Last month, Councillor Scott McKeen introduced three interactive public art pieces, in the form of metal frames, at the launch of the newest phase of the Imagine Jasper Avenue project. The frames are placed along Jasper Avenue where passersby can snap a photo and share their thoughts (on Twitter and Instagram with #ImagineJasperAvenue) on how Jasper Avenue should look as a Main Street.
“These frames invite all Edmontonians to start envisioning Jasper Avenue differently, to consider how they could change our shared public space for the better,” says City Councillor Scott McKeen.
Next time you find yourself walking down Jasper Avenue, take a moment to take a photo through one of the frames. Share it to social media with your thoughts – What do you currently see on Jasper Avenue, and what do you want to see?
The frames are located at
- 111 Street and Jasper Avenue, on the north side of Jasper Avenue
- 112 Street and Jasper Avenue, on the north side of Jasper Avenue
- 119 Street and Jasper Avenue, on the south side of Jasper Avenue
These interactive public art pieces for the Imagine Jasper Avenue project have been made in partnership with CITYlab and local artist Naomi Pahl. Pahl hopes participants will take a moment to digitally capture the people, places and events on Jasper Avenue.
As we move forward, the project team and the public are excited to see Jasper Avenue reassume the role of a place for people, as it historically did. The new vision and guiding principles place an emphasis on the quality of public space and the importance of continued public space improvements.
Once again Jasper Avenue will become, just as the Imagine Jasper Avenue vision states, Edmonton’s premier Main Street – a people place.
For more information please see the project website:
Questions and comments can be sent to: