Potential Valley Line LRT underpass could shut down 20 Edmonton businesses

Business owners and residents in the area of 149th Street and Stony Plain Road are concerned about how the west Valley Line LRT expansion could change their community.

The city is exploring several options for the development in the area, including elevated, tunneled or street-level tracks. But community members are particularly worried about a fourth option — an underpass for cars.

The underpass would cross Stony Plain Road, allowing traffic on 149th Street to flow beneath it.

Other options for the LRT expansion include elevated, tunneled or street-level tracks. A new proposal suggests Stony Plain Road be turned into a westbound one-way. (City of Edmonton)

Constructing the underpass would require the expropriation of 20 businesses and one apartment building in the area, according to West Jasper/Sherwood Community League president Irene Blain.

The businesses include a TD Bank, London Drugs, Starbucks and local eatery Il Forno Ristorante.

“We could have up to 150 employees lose their job,” Blain said.

“These businesses were the main staple for the residents in the surrounding area.”

 ‘A bit of a shock’

Apache Seeds is one of those businesses. The store on 149th Street and 101st Avenue has been helping community members with their gardening needs for 60 years.

Apache Seeds

Apache Seeds is one of 20 businesses that would be shut down if the city chooses to build an underpass at Stony Plain Road and 149th Street. (Supplied/Apache Seeds)

Owner Jerry Close said he wasn’t directly notified by the city about the potential underpass. Blain found out about the proposal at an open house on Jan. 24 and shared the information with him.

“It was a bit of a shock because it obviously would entail us being bought out and shut down,” Close said.

Customers are concerned, and staff want to know if they’ll be out of a job, he said.

“There’s a lot of implications, and I have no answers because I can’t say anything until after council makes a choice about this intersection,” he said.

Blain said the potential loss of amenities in the area would also cause problems for seniors with mobility issues.

“In order for them to retain their independence, they have to have these amenities,” Blain said, noting that taking the bus to a different part of town isn’t an option for some. “They moved here many years ago because [the amenities] existed.”

Council to review plans in March

Residents will have the opportunity to discuss their concerns at a meeting at the West Jasper/Sherwood Community League building at 7 p.m. Tuesday.

‘I’m more inclined now to lean toward some of the other options that we’ve been looking at.’ –  Andrew Knack, Ward 1 City Councillor

Ward 1 Councillor Andrew Knack will attend the meeting.

He said the underpass was his preferred choice of the three separate-grade options.

But seeing the wide range of properties that would be affected by the development changed that, he said.

“I’m more inclined now to lean toward some of the other options that we’ve been looking at,” Knack said.

He said there’s now a fifth option for the expansion. It would see the transformation of Stony Plain Road into a one-way corridor heading westbound with the LRT at street level.

City council will review its options for the intersection on March 21.

Construction of the west Valley Line LRT could begin as early as next year.

LRT Underpass

Traffic on 149th Street would flow under the overpass on Stony Plain Road. (City of Edmonton)

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