Early last year, I asked a couple city councillors if anything was ever going to be done with the boarded-up retail spaces located in the Bay, Corona, and Central LRT stations. There are almost a dozen retail spaces in these stations that have sat vacant for more than 30 years.

Apparently, I wasn’t the only one curious about the possibility of opening up shop in an LRT station.

Coun. Don Iveson told me that around the same time, for example, the people in charge of the Downtown Farmers’ Market asked whether the concourse of Bay Station could be used as a sheltered location for the market during the winter.

Unfortunately, the logistics of an underground farmers’ market didn’t quite work out but the possibility of opening up the LRT station retail spaces looks to finally be in the cards.

This spring, spurred on by higher LRT ridership and curious folks like myself, the city sent out a request for information in order to gauge business interest for underground retail spaces. Several interested parties came forward and, as a result, the city will be issuing a request for proposals at the end of the month.

“A tender will go out to the public in various media, and interested individuals will have an opportunity to put their proposals together,” said Troy Shewchuk, a strategic planning officer with ETS.

“What we’re hoping for is that, by the end of July, we will have a concrete list of vendors who want to open a business down there ... that we will then select from based on a predetermined list of criteria.”

If all the retail spaces aren’t filled, the city may consider the idea of using the spaces for ETS or municipal government offices.

“We haven’t had any departments ask about it yet, but that’s something that we’re open to looking at as well,” Shewchuk said. “Right now, however, it looks like there is external business interest.”

Coffee and sandwich shops, shoe repair shops, and newspaper stands are just some of the ideas that have been floated around so far, but Shewchuk added the city is open to a wide variety of ideas.

Done right, finally opening up these retail spaces can only be a good thing: Putting a little more money in city coffers every month and infusing these stations with welcome bits of life.

On the web
For more information on the LRT retail spaces and the upcoming request for proposals, visit www.edmonton.ca/transportation/ets/transit_news/information-regarding-lrt-reta.aspx.

– Bryan Saunders is a local transit advocate and a strong supporter of initiatives to
decrease dependence on private vehicles.

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