Proactive on Century Park, LRT, and Park and Ride
Over the last two and a half years, I, along with this Council, have dealt with the topic of Park & Ride at Century Park on a number of occasions. Over the course of these discussions, many key pieces have been put in place, or have been identified, to answer the following question: given that the park and ride lease has always been temporary, as a City, what proactive measures are we taking, and what is our strategy, for when the Park & Ride at Century Park no longer exists?
Though a lot of work has been conducted over the last two and a half years, and many key pieces have been put in place to answer this question, a coordinated strategy has been lacking; at yesterday’s Transportation Committee, this strategy was presented and discussed.
In short, this Fall, we will be exploring a number of options that will aim to ease the transition of a temporary surface Park & Ride to high density mixed-use residential and commercial development. The options being explored include the following:
1. DEVELOPING A MIXED-USE RESIDENTIAL/PUBLIC PARKING FACILITY
Currently, the City owns a small L-shaped parcel of land located on the northwest corner of the site. At the August 17, 2016 Urban Planning Committee meeting, a report will be brought forward that will outline feasibility and recommendations for the potential construction of a residential/public parking facility on this site.
2. ENHANCED EXPRESS BUS STRATEGY FOR SURROUNDING NEIGHBOURHOODS
With the potential loss of parking at Century Park, there is an expectation that the demand for feeder bus service to CenturyPark from surrounding neighbourhoods reaching all the way to Terwillegar, will increase. In fact, as reported at a Transportation Committee meeting in August of last year, roughly 40% (21% north and northwest and 19% west) of people who park at Century Park originate from the surrounding neighbourhoods.
At the December 7, 2016 Urban Planning Committee meeting, a report will be brought forward that will outline the options/costs for the enhancement of bus services to and from neighbourhoods and transit centres surrounding Century Park to meet the potential increase in demand.
3. DEVELOPMENT OF REGIONAL PARK & RIDE IN HERITAGE VALLEY
The development of a regional Park & Ride located in Heritage Valley at Ellerslie Road & 127 Street has never been seen as a replacement to parking at Century Park as some have framed it.
As roughly 11% of the people who park at Century Park originate from neighbourhoods outside of the Anthony Henday, and 24% originate from municipalities to the south of Edmonton, the construction of a Park & Ride in Heritage Valley is meant to provide enhanced transit options to those living outside of the Henday, where the fastest growth in the City is occurring and where the Capital Line LRT will eventually be extended to, and in my view, should receive higher priority in terms of where LRT goes right after the Valley Line west extension.
At the December 7, 2016 Urban Planning Committee meeting, a report will be brought forward that will outline the following:
- additional details for the construction of this facility
- regional cost sharing strategy (it is anticipated that when this facility is operational, 43% of the users will originate from municipalities south of Edmonton)
- details surrounding a potential shuttle service from Heritage Valley to Century Park.
4. STARTING A CONVERSATION ABOUT THE 40TH AVENUE LRT STATION
This is not a new issue. But it is an issue that deserves to be looked at again and discussed at length with the community. A station was originally planned along the Capital Line near 40th Avenue, Harry Ainlay and Louis St. Laurent high schools, which together attract ~3500 students daily. Coupled with better bus service east and west on 40th Avenue, there will be substantial use of this station. ~25% of Century Park boarders come from the area where this station would sit and conceivably would be captured by it.
A DEVELOPMENT OPPORTUNITY LIKE NO OTHER
While I am an advocate for some type of parking facility here, it is no secret that I do not support surface-level parking at Century Park.
I won’t go into too many detail as I have written about my non-support of surface-level parking at Century Park in previous blogs, but devoting a large section of land, which happens to be right next to an LRT station and located within existing vibrant neighbourhoods, goes against every planning principle, and is, in my opinion, a missed opportunity.
Opportunities to create a world-class Transit Oriented Development site, where potentially thousands of Edmontonians can live, work and play right next to an LRT station, do not come along often, if at all.
This is not an issue that can be oversimplified or reduced to the city simply having planned badly. We are not letting the lease run out lazily nor are we satisfied that the permanent lot in Heritage Valley is the only solution here. We know people who live any meaningful distance north of the Henday will not drive south, park, get on a bus and then backtrack north to get on a train. We need to focus on the multiple solutions outlined above.
And once we identify and achieve these solutions we can focus on building a great transit oriented mixed use community that is a living symbol of a better city.
If, as a city, we really want to make significant strides towards achieving an environmentally and economically sustainable city through an increase in density, opportunities like Century Park are not ones that we can pass up.