Two Downtown Alleys To Be Transformed

Downtown Alley Transformations to be Announced and Proclamation of Lulu Anderson Day by Mayor Amarjeet Sohi

Imagine if we made Downtown alleys more appealing and accessible so people actively sought them as places to walk, linger, discover and socialize, instead of avoiding them?

The Edmonton Downtown Business Association is pleased to announce details of two alley transformations to be completed this summer that will create new and unexpected public spaces in our downtown.

The first alley is located behind Rice Howard Way and will feature permanent art installations, improved lighting, opportunities for arts and cultural performances and small-business activations, including patio space. The Rice Howard Way alley transformation will be led by The Works International Visual Arts Society.

“The pandemic has highlighted the importance of maximizing access to shared public spaces and brought to light the opportunities in converting these kinds of underutilized spaces into vibrant, accessible gathering places. We hope that these alley transformation initiatives will demonstrate how, in being flexible and creative in how we design our public spaces, we can enrich Downtown Edmonton’s community, culture, and economy for all,” says Puneeta McBryan, Executive Director of the Edmonton Downtown Business Association.

The second reimagined alley, to be named Lulu Lane, runs from 103 Street to 104 Street south of Jasper Avenue and will honour Lulu Anderson. One hundred years ago, May 12, 1922, Lulu Anderson was refused entry to the Metropolitan Theatre, located half a block away from the project site. Lulu fought back, suing the theatre. She lost her case, but in her strength and determination, her story is a beacon in the fight for racial equality in Edmonton’s history. Through this project, Lulu Lane will honour one of Canada’s lesser-known civil rights activists. In fact, Lulu’s case happened 24 years before Viola Desmond was refused entry to a theatre in New Glasgow, Nova Scotia.

The block-long Lulu Lane transformation will be managed by HCMA Architecture + Design, who transformed two Vancouver downtown alleys into award-winning public spaces (“More Awesome Now”). Local Black artists selected by the EDBA, with the support and advisory of writer and civil rights advocate Bashir Mohamed, will be the creative leads and contributing artists on the project. Lulu Lane will be enhanced with bold and vibrant art installations, decorative lighting and opportunities for event activations and patio space.

“This project is an important step in inspiring all of us to imagine the potential of other underutilized spaces around Edmonton. The future Lulu Lane will be a vibrant and unique Downtown experience for reflection, artistic expression, and for the community to connect; all while paying homage to civil rights pioneer Lulu Anderson,” says Michael Rivest of HCMA.

In honour of the 100th anniversary of Lulu’s fight against racism and for equal rights in Edmonton, Mayor Amarjeet Sohi will declare May 12, 2022 Lulu Anderson Day.

Puneeta McBryan, Executive Director of the Edmonton Downtown Business Association will be joined by Mayor Amarjeet Sohi, Linda Wedman, Chief Operating Officer of The Works International Visual Arts Society and Keenan Pascal, CEO Token Naturals, for the announcement and proclamation.

Federal government funding for this project is provided through the Canada Community Revitalization Fund, administered by Prairies Economic Development Canada (PrairiesCan), which provides investments to build a strong, competitive Canadian economy by supporting business, innovation and community economic development unique to Alberta, Saskatchewan and Manitoba.

To learn more about Lulu Anderson, read Finding Lulu.

Media are invited to attend the announcement.

Date: Thursday, May 12, 2022

Time: 10:15 am – 10:40 am

Location: Alley south of Jasper Avenue between 103 Street and 104 Street (meet behind Cask & Barrel and Uccellino)