August 18, 2005

‘The Day That Changed Edmonton Forever’

On the 50th anniversary of the opening of Westmount, Edmonton's first shopping mall, the Edmonton Journal's Mike Sadava (subscribers only now, sorry) can't help but wonder what the city would have been like without it and the flood of malls that followed.

Imagine Edmonton without the Eighth Wonder of the World, no seas of pavement, no food courts filled with Saturday afternoon shoppers. ...

Shafraaz Kaba, a local architect, thinks we have sacrificed plenty for our love affair with shopping malls.

'The first thing that comes to mind is that we would have been a little bit European in city planning,' Kaba says. 'They grew without the whole shopping centre paradigm.'

He thinks of London, which has a series of High Streets and town centres, little villages where people can walk to the butcher, baker or post office and rarely venture into a mall.

Kaba says without shopping malls Edmonton might have had numerous shopping streets with more commercial development intertwined with residential neighbourhoods. We might have been a city with a dozen pedestrian-friendly streets...

And what might the Framingham-Natick Golden Triangle have been, if it were planned as something besides a series of indoor malls, outdoor malls and strip malls? Rte. 30 could have been a pedestrian-friendly commercial boulevard, with storefronts at the sidewalk, outdoor seating at restaurants where you could watch people go by - picture Panera's and John Harvard's outdoor seating fronting a lively street scene instead of buried in parking lots. If planned differently, Rte. 30 could have had a pleasing street divider and well-designed crossings so people would be encouraged stroll from one side of the street to the other.....

Actually, it still could be that someday, if planners started now to demand such things in the area's zoning. It might take another generation, but at least it could happen.

No comments:

Post a Comment