Things are slowly, but surely, changing in the neighbourhoods of Queen Mary Park and Central McDougall. Probably not fast enough for some, but it’s happening.
The two communities that make up the “North Edge” are one of the four areas the City has targeted for neighbourhood revitalization. The Queen, a community garden next to the Edmonton Chinese Baptist Church, is a great example of collaboration and connection. The enhancement of McDougall Park, with new light fixtures and two beautiful gazebos was finally finished a few weeks ago, and a gorgeous mural, painted on the side of a problematic convenience store on the Avenue of Nations was completed this week.
The Queen (photo taken by Biviana Velez-Perez)
Mural (it took students over 80 hours to complete)
The City has also been supporting community gathering events, such as the Safe Streets Fair that took place in June. Though it was a good idea, I had hoped for better execution – more prominent advertisements and more displays, among other things. As a result, I was looking forward to Friday’s Outdoor Night Market, hoping organizers would have learned from past mistakes.
The event was to start at 5pm, in perfect alignment with the end of our work day. Jill and I walked down the street from our office, excited to see that a few artists had set up on the corner of 107 Avenue and 105 Street. It was strange though that these two artists were so isolated from the rest of the activities taking place down the street – as with the Safe Streets Fair, things seemed to be spread too far apart.
As we walked towards 101 Street though, we found more of what we were expecting – artists, jewellers, crafters, rummage sale tables and community business displays. We both thought the granite/stone company was a bit out of place, but others might have appreciated the range of offerings. I will say that it was challenging to navigate the narrow space in between the booths and the end of the sidewalk, given the number of people who were milling about – the fair really would have benefited from closing down 107 Avenue to pedestrian-only traffic.
The Way We Green display (Mack, who joined us later, was excited to see that the surveys were being done on iPads)
There was food on hand as well – samosas and chicken biryani from Central 101, and very tempting spring rolls and pork skewers from Fat Jaaks (when isn’t meat on a stick tempting?).
Pork on a stick from Fat Jaaks
I am not ashamed to admit that my favourite part of the evening ended up being the hayride. I really didn’t think it would work – only one lane of traffic was closed, and really, I wouldn’t consider Central McDougall to be the most scenic neighbourhood. But it was fantastic.
Puppy in the driver’s seat
Jill with the horses
I was happy to see the turnout, and it looked like people were having a great time. Bravo to the North Edge Business Association who sponsored the fair, and to everyone else who contributed to the event. I hope for more such gatherings in the future!