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Blatchford development plans scaled back

The neighbourhood to be built on the former City Centre Airport lands will no longer have a some of the environmentally-innovative features from the original plan.

Redevelopment plans for the former City Centre Airport lands have been downsized from the original environmentally-innovative vision.

The neighbourhood, known as Blatchford, will no longer have a $91 million pneumatic garbage chute system and a $25 million plan to process sanitary waste on site.

A biomass-burning plant is also no longer in the plans. Instead, there will be a combined heat and electricity system, a savings of $142 million.

Project executive director Mark Hall said decisions had to be made to make the project achievable.

“What we did was really look at the infrastructure that was going to be used to support that population and make choices,” he said.

“And in a lot of cases, we were making choices between very good solutions, but maybe a slightly better solution in the Edmonton context.”

The project will transform 217 hectares of land in the centre of Edmonton into a home for 30,000 people. The design includes parks, ponds, condos and LRT access. 

When the airport redevelopment was first proposed in 2008, the city estimated land sales would put $500 million into city coffers.

These rosy figures have since been downsized. The estimate now sits at $45 million.

“If Edmontonians want to make hundreds of millions of dollars of profit out of Blatchford, you wouldn't be able to achieve that and have any of the sustainability measures in the plan right now,” Hall said.

Edmonton Mayor Don Iveson wasn’t worried about the scaled-back vision.

“What our consultants have done and city administration have done is taken the first high-level vision and they made it practical and they’ve made it financially reasonable for the city of Edmonton.”

City council will look at the plan on Tuesday. If the new plan is approved, construction could start in 2016.

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