A proposed $8.6-million facelift to a stretch of Gaetz Avenue will bring increased pedestrian traffic to the historical and contemporary area, says a report.
The Gaetz Avenue Revitalization draft report, approved by council earlier this week, recommends various ways of rejuvenating the area — funded by the City of Red Deer — between 53rd Street and 46th Street.
It suggests changing the block between Ross Street and 49th Street to a one-way street from the current two-way. Doing this would result in the loss of 28 parking stalls. Councillor Cindy Jefferies, who chaired the Greater Downtown Action Plan committee, said the idea was to give the street continuity by having one-way throughout. It was also felt that the one-way street would make the area more safe.
Engineering Services Department manager Frank Colosimo added the two-way street is allowing vehicles to easily circle the area if they are looking for illegal drugs or sex trade workers. The city will seek more public feedback on changing the two-way street, with a report to come back to council in 2011.
ISL Engineering and Land Services, which completed the report, said one of the main objectives is to encourage people to experience the area on foot.
“Services and amenities will provide opportunities for Gaetz Avenue to host events and invite people to enjoy the public realm,” says the report.
Sidewalks would be widened to allow for additional landscaping and amenities.
Shortening pedestrian crossing distances would slow vehicles.
Crossing areas are highlighted with a distinct pattern of coloured paving stones to increase the visibility of pedestrian crossings at mid-block points.
“Bike lanes have been explored during this project, however as Gaetz Avenue is not a major focus of bicycle traffic, marked lanes have not been included,” adds the report.
ISL Engineering also recommends: building key electrical servicing locations to allow for sound, lighting and food vendors; having lots of quality lighting for safety as well as lights that reflect the historical and contemporary character; adding colourful, perennial and shrub plantings.
It also suggests more public art; banners and hanging baskets; historical building markers; metal rail “farming heritage” fences to break up the look of parking lots; and lighted street marker structures that would highlight the street and add more of an interesting look to Gaetz.
Jefferies said the improvements are long overdue. She’s hoping that restaurants with outdoor patios will open up in the area.
“The reduction in barriers, increased seating opportunities, wider sidewalks and improved lighting, allows Gaetz Avenue to facilitate large and small events through the year,” says the report.
Terry Myles, ISL Engineering project manager, suggested implementing the work on a block-by-block basis instead of doing selective elements for the entire Gaetz Avenue. City manager Craig Curtis suggested several blocks could be done at a time. This project has been delayed many times, he added.