Iqaluit’s pedestrian walkway plan unveiled
“This whole street could be like an open book – each sculpture could be a story”
Driving in Iqaluit’s downtown core will be safer, more pleasant, and less life-threatening to pedestrians if a new plan for walkways comes to fruition.
City councillors got their first look at conceptual drawings for the plan, which were unveiled by the City’s director of lands and planning, Michele Bertol, at a council meeting on Tuesday evening.
If Bertol has her way, pedestrians along Iqaluit’s ring road between the four corners and the proposed Iqaluit Square (in front of the elder’s centre) will soon be walking on paths lining the buildings along the road, and separated from traffic by planted areas lined with low stone or timber walls.
The most dramatic changes are in some of Iqaluit’s busiest and most dangerous parking areas – directly outside of the post office, and in front of the Northmart Store.
The area now used as a parking lot in front of the post office will make way for a circular mosaic paving, complete with benches and enhanced lighting. A similar area will adorn the street side of the craft centre, directly next door.
Traffic for both establishments will be directed to turn off of the main road and onto the side street, where cars can park in vertical stalls.
Bertol told council that the plan will eliminate the situation where cars are pulling out of parking stalls on both sides of the street.
For example, the parking stalls in front of Grinnell Place will stay the same, but the overlapping area now used for parking in front of Iqaluit House, across the street, will also be turned into a pedestrian gathering place. Parking for Iqaluit House will resume further up the street, and behind the building.
At Northmart, parking outside of Mean Gene’s will remain the same, but cars will no longer be able to park directly in front of the building to the left of the main entrance.
Instead, there will be a single row of parking stalls facing the ring road in front of the store. Overflow traffic will be forced to turn off the ring road and onto the road south of Northmart to drive into a parking lot.
Children from Nakasuk School will have a new walkway from the bottom of the stairs all the way to the ring road. Bertol says the pathway is designed to “coax” the children out of running onto the road.
In addition to tackling safety issues, Bertol told council that the walkways could be an opportunity to “express, through design, the culture and the identity of the people.”
She envisions local designs inlaid in flagstone mosaics, and sculptures up and down the street.
“This whole street could be like an open book – each sculpture could be a story,” Bertol said.
The City has set aside a budget of $270,000 for the project.
Bertol is in the process of meeting with business owners who will be affected by the changes.
No timeline has been planned but Ian Fremantle, the city’s chief administration officer, said he would like to get started “before snow falls.”
The walkways will not be traditional sidewalks. The paths will initially be soil, mixed with a binder, and will be incrementally replaced with asphalt.
Planted areas will feature “hardy [alpine] plants selected for showiness and planted in masses.”