Positivity, passion, and an openness to new ideas – that’s how cities get built! Just ask Julie Kusiek, one of the founding members of QA Crossroads.
As planners, city builders and employees of the City, we’re always interested in innovative ways to work with communities. QA Crossroads certainly shows some grassroots innovation! The group is a committee of the Queen Alexandra Community League that was founded when the City began public engagement on a Neighbourhood Renewal Project in the area. Residents saw an opportunity to change their streets. “If it’s getting dug up, might as well put it back together better!” says Julie.
Optimism and can-do attitude fuels the entire QA Crossroads operation. The group knows that new street infrastructure costs money, takes time to approve and can face a number of challenges in installation. Therefore, instead of approaching the City with a wish list of items they’d like to see built, Crossroads developed a vision (walk, bike, live safely) and a set of six principles they’d like to see met in the new design. These six principles for 106 Street and 76 Avenue say the new roads should:
- Accommodate all users;
- Showcase the neighbourhood’s beauty and history;
- Be transformed into bridges, rather than divides;
- Promote active modes of transportation and quality infill redevelopment;
- Facilitate safe and desirable traffic flow; and
- Maximize cycling infrastructure.
This principle-based approach to design created an opportunity for the City and the community to work together as a team because the flexibility in outcomes leaves the door open for conversations and collaboration.
Support has been overwhelming, and Julie credits this to the group’s positivity and principle-based approach. This support includes ongoing collaboration with the City on sustainable transportation and road design options. Transportation Planning is now working on a comprehensive concept plan for the 106 Street and 76 Avenue corridor that will be included in neighbourhood reconstruction. This plan involves more public engagement with the community in 2015.
Julie says the group is excited about the opportunity that neighbourhood renewal presents “not only to make our physical environment better, but also to engage community members in the conversation about preparing our neighbourhood for its future – how people will move around, live and do their daily business today and 50 years from now.” She and the QA Crossroads group are also energized by the residents who come forward to enrich this project – some volunteering for the first time. “It has been a great learning experience for all of us, and I hope a good training ground for new community leaders and advocates.”
Support and momentum have also come from external groups including Make Something Edmonton, the Edmonton Federation of Community Leagues, Allendale and Strathcona community leagues, the Old Strathcona Business Association, the Old Strathcona Foundation, 1912 Studio, public and Catholic school board trustees Michael Janz and John Acheson, Edmonton Bicycle Commuters, Strathcona Complete Streets, Edmonton Bike Coalition and the Edmonton Wayfinding Group.
As for the future, QA Crossroads is forging ahead in their quest to make the intersection at 106 Street and 76 Avenue a landmark in their community, and the journey along those roads a walkable, bikeable, livable and safe one.
More information on Neighbourhood Renewal reconstruction in Queen Alexandra can be found at www.edmonton.ca/buildinggreatneighbourhoods