Skip to content

Lacombe council to consider pedestrian plaza

Pedestrian plaza would be located on 49C Avenue next to Flatiron Building

A large landscaped pedestrian-friendly area would be built in front of Lacombe's historic Flatiron Building as part of a Pedestrian Plaza concept plan going before city council on Monday.

The nearby 49C Avenue would be limited to one-way traffic and sidewalks widened to make it more walkable. The reconfiguration allows 10 new parking spaces to be added on the street as well as another five on adjacent 49B Avenue.

To make the street more pedestrian-friendly and to slow traffic two large bulbs would be built at the north entrance to the street near the Flatiron Building. A bulb directly in front of the historic building would close off one eastbound lane to create a large area decorated with planters. The sidewalk on each side of 49C street would also be widened by one metre.

The plan is to add power outlets so lighting can be added for special events. Negotiations are underway with Fortis to see if overhead power lines can be buried.

Trees on either side of the road complicate the concept of opening up the street to pedestrians. The design consultants recommended taking out the nearly dozen trees on each side of the road to make it more accessible.

However, the Downtown Area Redevelopment Committee, which has been steering the Pedestrian Plaza project for several years, was reluctant to make such a dramatic change. The committee recommended only trees on the west side of the street be removed, excluding a large elm at the south end.

It is also recommended four parking spaces be removed to allow for a gathering area or patio that "will help advance the long-term vision for closing the street," says a report going to council.

A concept plan shown to council last fall that envisioned closing off 49C Avenue to vehicles to create a year-round gathering place and event venue with landscaping and seating was met with a mixed reaction. While some on council were on board, Mayor Grant Creasey predicted closing the street might not sit well with local businesses.

He supported a hybrid concept that involved keeping the street open most times with the option of closing it off for special events.

It is proposed the project be completed in two phases. Council set aside $850,000 this year for the first phase and $600,000 is anticipated next year. A $200,000 provincial grant has already been lined up to go towards the project.

So far, the estimated first phase cost is $665,000, which would be $165,000 under budget. Town staff said that pricetag might not stand depending on tendering.

If council approves the concept design, detailed design will follow and the project would be tendered in August for a September construction start.