I live in the Oliver neighbourhood in Edmonton. And I've lived there for a rather long time — over 15 years now. I love this area and am a member (though not a particularly active one) of the community league. So it strikes me as really interesting how the neighbourhood where I live is changing these days.
I received a missed delivery notice from UPS yesterday which points to exactly how dramatic changes are happening. You see, for the longest time packages were held for me at the UPS store on Jasper Avenue, but so when that moved this fall, I expected that packages would be held for me there when I wasn't home to receive them. Unfortunately that's not the case — they're held at another location (with better hours) further away (closer to downtown which is fine, though not terribly convenient).
Yesterday I walked into Shoppers Drugmart on 114th street and realized how soon it would be that that store would be closing. Literally half of the shelves were bare as they prepared to close this store location and move to their fancy new digs on 117th street in the former Champion Family Foods location.
Similarly this year, there have been quite a few stores that have closed or moved with vacant storefronts making their appearance in the area — which I guess is unsurprising as the economic climate is changing. Sure there are new businesses in Oliver too, but I'm living in the part where I'm noticing more of them moving away from me, I guess.
When you add that to the fact that there are actual vacant lots from the tearing down of the old Canadian Western Bank building, the former Leamington Mansions site (which burned down in October) and so on, it looks like Oliver will look like a rather different place in a few years time (I assume that new buildings will spring up on the empty lots at some point in the next 5ish years). I would be surprised if the building currently containing Shoppers Drugmart and a medical clinic stays standing too — it just seems more logical to me that they would eventually build something bigger/better/more dense there too.
When I first moved into the Oliver neighbourhood the area was filled with shorter buildings in general when compared to the area now. The area is becoming more dense, more vibrant, but is still filled with lots of residential and lots of useful services. Turnover is a fact of life in a neighbourhood so close to downtown. And really, downtown itself is becoming a whole lot more vibrant too with many many many more folks living there. I am glad that walking the streets in these areas no longer means the streets are empty in the evenings — with festivals, bars, restaurants, and fun places (such as escape rooms, board game cafes, comic book stores, theatres, etc.) encouraging folks to spend time in Oliver and Downtown (especially as it gets colder outside — brr!).
I love Edmonton — I really truly do. Sure, I want it to improve in various ways over time (and not just in Oliver and the downtown core either — there are many ways that the city could improve in all areas). A vibrant dynamic community to me needs good transit/transportation corridors/walkability/beautification (and it looks like in the next few years this section of Jasper Avenue will get some loving attention that it needs with regards to these aspects), it needs people living there (and for it to not ONLY be a destination for people to work or play in), and it needs amenities. I've always liked Oliver for this aspect, and am really glad I chose to live here.