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Edmonton looking at more possible changes to Churchill Square

City looks at tweaks to Churchill Square driven by high-maintenance costs

metro file

The city is again looking at tweaking Churchill Square as Edmonton’s central gathering spot faces pressure on all sides.

An outside consultant is set to look at options for the square and will likely consult the public over the summer on any possible changes. Here's all you need to know on what could be around the corner.

Tannia Franke, supervisor of the civic precinct, said the consultant's review is in its early stages and is driven partially by maintenance costs, as just replacing paving stones is costing the city $50,000 per year.

She said there is a lot the city has to figure out and they’re keeping an open mind.

“We’re in a concept phase for that right now,” she said. “They’re going to give us a number of options and cost estimates after some consultation happens over the summer.”

Franke said the plan will focus on the area around the wading pool near city hall, the treed area near 99 Street and at 102A Avenue, which is the now-closed street that cuts through the middle of the area.

But those won’t be the only changes considered for Churchill.

Construction of the Valley Line LRT will close off some access to the square over the next few years and introduce a new entrance for subterranean trains on the south end.

If rethinking Churchill sounds familiar, it should: Council rejected a broader vision for the area, dubbed the Civic Precinct Master Plan in 2013.

Franke said they won’t be revisiting the broader plan for the square until the LRT work is done.

Coun. Michael Walters said if the city can reduce maintenance costs he supports making a change to Churchill's design.

“If we can make one investment that makes us that money back, and then some through savings on maintenance, that is a wise move,” he said.

But a big redevelopment is not something he has an interest in.

“Of all the things in our capital budget 'unfunded list' I don’t know that that one merits being near the top."

Coun. Mike Nickel expressed frustration at the maintenance costs, but said anything larger doesn’t make sense right now.

“It’s not the time we have bigger problems,” he said. “I am just not in the mood to spend a lot of money to re-plan Churchill Square.”

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