The walking tour outside Boyle Street Plaza. Sharon Ruyter
Joelle Reiniger led a group of 50 or 60 people on a walking tour of Boyle Street on Saturday, May 4. The group included a high school class, about 15 Boyle Street residents, and about 30 others who heard about the event through Jane’s Walk publicity at https://janewalksyeg.wordpress.com. This event combined a launch of the new Boyle Street Walking Map (see sidebar) and participation in Jane’s Walk activities that occur every year on the first weekend in May.
The tour began at the Boyle Street Plaza and made its way past the City of Edmonton shop space that used to be a city stable and is now on the Historic Resource Inventory. The final stop was St. Teresa of Calcutta School (90 Street and 105A Avenue).
“The participants were very engaged,” Reiniger says. “Those who came from elsewhere and were seeing areas they hadn’t seen before were caught off guard. They were able to see the reality versus the perception.” Reiniger heard comments like, “Wow, it’s not sketchy at all.”
Joanna Wong, owner of the United Grocers Chinese supermarket on 102 Avenue and 95 Street, says she grew up in the Chinatown area near Boyle Street and her family has roots in the community that go back to the 1980s. Yet she tended not to venture east of 97 Street because of a feeling that it was not clean and not safe. “I was amazed,” she says. “It felt like a neighbourhood.”
Reiniger, a Boyle Street resident, wants to see a growing presence of families in the area. She says that when she and her husband first moved into the area, her family “used to stick out like a sore thumb” when pushing a stroller down the street. Reiniger also tries to promote what she calls “asset-based community development,” that is, turning things that may be considered weaknesses into strengths. On the tour she gave the example of a fun and unexpected use of an empty lot: turning it into a dog park.
Walk Edmonton has developed walking maps for many Edmonton communities, in consultation with local residents. The maps identify major landmarks and local attractions. The Boyle Street map features two suggested walks in the community, including one on the bank of the North Saskatchewan River, which offers spectacular views of the River Valley and city skyline. It highlights four more that are nearby, such as a tour of Little Italy and Church Street.
Boyle Street’s community walking map is now available on the rack at the entryway to Boyle Street Plaza, 9538 – 103A Avenue.
Anita Jenkins is a retired writer and editor who lives in Boyle Street.