The $87 million cost of refurbishing the Rossdale power plant is raising questions about the future of the site.
The buildings on the river valley site were earmarked for possible future development after the plant was decommissioned by EPCOR in 2008.
However, the city has since learned that it would cost millions to bring the structures up to standards required for an occupancy permit.
Mayor Stephen Mandel said it will take a "miracle" to save the buildings.
"The buildings themselves have no heat currently. They have no electrical systems, no mechanical systems," he said. "You have to put all that stuff in. You have no insulation, you haven't got a roof that works, you have walls that are not stable."
Mandel said that one of the options could be to join forces with a private firm to develop the site. But he questioned the value of the buildings, as he doesn't believe they share the historical significance of the land that they sit on.
"What might be more apropos is to tear it all down and make a sanctuary to our aboriginal communities. Might be something that has a bit more merit, a bit more meaning," Mandel said.
Even if the city decides not to proceed with the development, the buildings need to be stabilized.
A city report says that the recommended repairs would cost $7.4 million with $4.6 million spent this year to replace the roof and stabilize the west wall of the boiler hall.
Annual operating costs for heating, maintenance, security and environmental monitoring of the stabilized structures is estimated at $645,000.
EPCOR wants the city to take possession of the site and the buildings by the end of the first quarter of 2013. EPCOR has offered the city a one-time payment of $1 million.
City administration has been asked to prepare a report on various options for the site that will be presented to councillors on July 8.