Two Downtown Alleys Transformed into Vibrant Spaces for Art and People

The Edmonton Downtown Business Association has unveiled two reimagined alleys that can now be used as vibrant pedestrian pathways and shared public spaces that support an improved experience for the Downtown community and an attraction for visitors.

“These bold and unexpected alley transformations are an example of how we’re building a fun and vibrant Downtown Edmonton and they’ll add to the attractiveness of these areas for visitors, residents and the business community,” says Puneeta McBryan, Executive Director, Edmonton Downtown Business Association. “We’ve already seen so much excitement, so many more pedestrians and visitors coming to see the art, and feedback from the area’s businesses and residents that it’s improving their overall daily experience.”

The first alley transformation, located in Rice Howard Way, is designed in partnership with The Works International Visual Arts Society. It is the second ‘Alley of Light’ in Downtown Edmonton and features permanent mural artwork by Edmonton-based artists Josh Harnack and Nathan Panousis throughout the alley as well as 11 backlit art boxes, currently exhibiting artwork by Edmonton artists Elsa Robinson, Brad Calihoo and KootenaySymington (Sharon Rose [Cherweniuk] Kootenay and Jason Symington).

Throughout the year, the art in the art boxes will be switched out to showcase more local artists and provide an art gallery experience that can be enjoyed again and again. Other additions to the alley include increased lighting to enhance security and safety at night and improve the pedestrian experience at night, particularly in winter months.

“This new illuminated feature public art installation creates a special public place. The alley now invites repeat visits from families, individuals living and working in the downtown, as well as visitors to Edmonton, and connects them with our local creative community.  The project represents the energy and efforts of many multi-partners to develop this new public art initiative and light up Rice Howard Way.  The Works is grateful to all of those who invested in this alley transformation” says Linda Wedman, Chief Operating Officer, The Works International Visual Arts Society.

Lulu Lane, the second alley transformation which runs east-to-west south of Jasper Avenue between 103 and 104 street, honours the life of Lulu Anderson, an early but little-known civil rights activist here in Edmonton. Lulu was refused entry to the Metropolitan Theatre 100 years ago, in 1922, because of the colour of her skin. The alley’s theme explores the strength, resiliency and determination of Lulu Anderson and celebrates the achievements of Black people in Alberta’s history.

The 103 Street entrance features an imagined portrait of Lulu Anderson by artist Jamelle Davis, as no known photos of her exist. Lined along the bright, multi-coloured alley are designs by artist Macha Abdallah representing the natural geographic features of the Alberta landscape. hcma architecture + design, the firm who transformed two Vancouver downtown alleys into award-winning public spaces in previous years, are the project managers and advisors on the Lulu Lane project out of their Edmonton office.

“Working on any project in Edmonton is special for our team; we are always inspired when we have an opportunity to contribute to our city’s built environment. But this project was especially rewarding as we were able to support Jamelle and Macha in their interpretation of an important social justice issue. More than ever, we recognize the need to invite other voices in, making the design process more inclusive, and the outcomes more meaningful.”

Federal government funding for this project has been provided through the Canada Community Revitalization Fund, administered in Alberta by PrairiesCan. Additional funding and support for this project was received by the City of Edmonton.

“Our government is continuing to partner with communities by supporting projects that contribute to building sustainable, inclusive, and vibrant downtown cores through the Canada Community Revitalization Fund,” said the Honourable Dan Vandal, Minister for PrairiesCan. “We’re pleased to support the Edmonton Downtown Business Association as it creates new community gathering spaces that will host unique experiences for Edmontonians of all ages and abilities to enjoy.”

“The unveiling of these reimagined alleys, Lulu Lane and an ‘Alley of Light’ in Rice Howard Way, are more examples of the positive transformation taking place in our downtown core,” said the Honourable Randy Boissonnault, Minister of Tourism and Associate Minister of Finance. “These projects celebrate our history, diversity, and resilience as a community. Our government recognizes the importance of investing in public spaces which will brighten the lives of Edmontonians for months and years to come.”

The vision and plan for these alleys is to host a mix of community-based events and pop-up programming throughout the year.

As the lead convener, activator, and advocate shaping Downtown Edmonton’s future, the Edmonton Downtown Business Association works to support an evolving, inclusive, prosperous, and resilient Downtown economy rooted in a vibrant and remarkable Downtown experience.

For information or to arrange an interview, contact Tracy Hyatt,