Council will be asked later this year to spend $200,000 to get rid of an LRT entrance at the southwest corner of Churchill Square. The idea is gaining applause from the festival crowd.
“To have that south west corner be even more of a grand entrance, be a safer higher functioning space and greet the Edmonton audiences that are coming in the millions, certainly during the festival season, that would be a really brilliant thing to have happen,” said Shelly Switzer of the Street Performers Festival. “I can not endorse this change strongly enough.”
Coun. Scott McKeen raised the issue saying he’s heard from plenty of festival organizers who complain about being cramped as they grow in popularity. What would happen is they’d eliminate the staircase that’s next to Three Bananas, while still having another one about 15 feet away.
“So we would be losing one, but gaining one, and perhaps enhancing the signage around the one at Tix on the Square,” McKeen said. The one they’d gain is at the south east corner, kitty corner to the Citadel Theatre. That would be the large transfer point between the Valley Line LRT on 102 ave, and the underground LRT at Churchill Station down below connected to the pedway system.
“We’re actually taking more space away so I think there’s a position of equity here to give some space back,” the downtown councillor said.
Seven-thousand people a day make their way onto the square through there. When the Valley line runs, it could be as high as 30,000 said infrastructure GM Adam Laughlin.
“This one is a tough one for us. Ultimately I think as administration as a whole we would identify that this is something that should probably stay in place for that larger LRT build out, but if directed to remove it wouldn’t be something that is fatal. We could actually do some things to enhance accessibility.”
Laughlin admitted to council’s transportation committee that the staircase at the Tix on the Square entranceway is sort of a hidden gem. “We’d really have to amp up the visibility of that pavilion staircase access. Because today there’s not a lot of folks that know there’s an access there.”
Cost of the renovation would be $200,000 with a large amount of that to pay for changes to the ventilation system for the pedway. “We would want to remove it before the Valley line is open,” Laughlin said of the timing. He said they don’t want the ETS crowd to have to change habits after the Valley Line begins operation. “You don’t want to create an environment that it’s there today and gone tomorrow.”
Council will vote in September when it looks at the over capital budget.