City council approves amended Blatchford plans

City council voted Tuesday to go forward with a scaled-back version of development plans proposed for the former City Centre Airport lands.

City council voted Tuesday to go forward with a scaled-back version of development plans proposed for the former City Centre Airport lands.

The approved plan will see the removal of some expensive environmental options, including a $91 million pneumatic waste system and a $157 million biomass and geothermal energy system, from the design.

The revised plan will include medium to high density housing, an irrigation system and high performance building envelopes.

Instead of a geothermal energy system, the revised plan would either be a gas-fired heat and power system or newer technology known as geo-exchange.

Mayor Don Iveson said the amended plan will still meet sustainability goals.

"This is a pragmatic approach to implementing council's vision. Again, it's not going to be the greenest neighbourhood in the world. I'd love to do that but I don't think it's the best place to invest. If I had 200 million to invest, I'd rather put it into LRT."

Joyce Drohan from Perkins and Will – the designers behind the concept  said she was disappointed with how the implementation went through.

She said the company was also frustrated at having to defend their work this late in the process.

“We really think when a team and city staff have put three years of work into a project like this, it should have been given more time, more consideration.”

Designers defend original plan

Earlier in the day, Perkins and Will pleaded with city council not to downgrade the original design.

According to a city report, the revised plan would make a profit of $45 million. The Perkins and Will concept would result in a net loss of $280 million.

Blair McCarry with Perkins and Will suggested the revised plan is inferior to what his firm originally proposed.

“I would suggest that it falls well, well short of the original goals,” McCarry told council. “I think the environmental standards that you have set originally, just set them aside because it’s well short.”

On Tuesday morning, Mayor Don Iveson told reporters the city has to be realistic about what can be achieved.

“I want leadership in Edmonton, I want to build a great neighbourhood, I want to change the housing market, I want to show environmental leadership,” he said.

“But I need to do that in a financially responsible way.”

“I would love to build the greenest neighbourhood in the world. But I don’t think I can convince Edmontonians to put $200 million into doing that.”

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