What's going on with High Level Line?

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It’s coming up on 18 months since we launched the vision of High Level Line. Before we unveiled it, we researched the area for a whole year and refined the idea to be something that sparked the imagination of all Edmontonians. And whoa, did it ever spark!

When we launched it, our idea of success was having a few people tell us what they like or dislike about it. We had no idea it would take off like it did. But we’re sticking with it, and we’re more committed than ever to making this dream a reality.

So what have we been up to exactly? To put it mildly, we’ve been… busy. Really busy doing everything we can to make High Level Line real. Lots of learning as we go. And to be honest, what we’re up to now isn’t as visually interesting as those early renderings, so we haven’t been as good about sharing the progress. But that stops now!

Here’s a breakdown of what’s been going on with High Level Line.

Public launch - October 2017

We hit “publish” on the website and populated our social media late on a weekday. In the morning, Mayor Don Iveson saw it and graciously shared his support. It was either that or our press release that caught the attention of seemingly every media outlet in town (okay, it was obviously his tweet). It was a whirlwind. From that, you told us loud and clear that we’re not the only ones who think it’s a good idea.

So we kept the momentum going.

Design Industry Presentations

We’ve been invited to share the High Level Line Vision (and build upon it with guests) at a handful of design-related events. We’re looking at you, AALA, APEGA, Urban Week, and PLACE18 (a national urban planning student conference).

Established a Non-Profit Society

High Level Line won’t happen overnight. It’s going to take a concerted effort for many years. We formalized this by establishing a non-profit society (High Level Line Society) with the purpose of fundraising, advocating and stewarding the vision of a better connected city core. Stay in the know and help us build momentum by signing up to be a member of the society. It’s free. Tell your friends too, please.

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Public Events (more of these to come)

To officially kick off the High Level Line Society, we held a launch party. We crammed supporters into The Common and asked for feedback on the idea while raising a glass to the potential of our city. In the spring, we hosted a well-attended Jane’s Walk along the entire line and loved seeing the light in everyone’s eyes as we imagined the possibilities of High Level Line together. In the fall, we were honoured to be invited to be part of MLA Shepherd’s annual barbecue where we set up a booth and heard from residents in Oliver.

Stakeholder Engagement (ongoing)

Most importantly, High Level Line has to be thoughtfully designed for the people, businesses, government and community groups that are connected to the line thrive. The bulk of our work has been engaging with these groups. We’ve shared the vision and discussed with many groups, but there’s still so many more to meet. Every time we engage with a new group, two things happen: One, their unique perspective brings to light even more benefits. Two, there’s always suggestions for more groups we need to talk to. So the list of stakeholders and people we want to connect with grows and grows. But this proves just how much High Level Line will be a connective thread.

Formed Committees

The five founding board members can’t do this alone, and plenty of Edmontonians reached out saying “how can we help?” Well, then. Committees made a lot of sense. We put the call out for volunteers in the fall, and we’re starting to find our groove with three committees: 1. Stakeholder Engagement and Fundraising, 2. Planning, Design and Activation, and 3. Marketing.

Now, our biggest focus for the next few months is:

Report with City of Edmonton Administration

During the last City of Edmonton capital and operating budget deliberations, High Level Line spoke at the public hearing and asked for formal support for High Level Line. Councillor Henderson made a motion for City Administration to work with us on a report that explores the resources, roles and funding required to get this going. We’re working with Admin on that now and will be sharing it with council later this summer.

Awareness

Something else to look forward to! Thanks to the work of committees, we have some events and initiatives coming up that will activate the line and get it on the radar of more Edmontonians.

Help!

The more people that are aware of—and in support of—High Level Line, the better. There’s lots of ways to support:

Finally, a heartfelt thank you for supporting High Level Line so far.

It’s real, it just hasn’t been built yet.

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Gillian Thomson