The final five designs for the controversial redevelopment of Edmonton's City Centre Airport lands were unveiled Tuesday morning.

Media were invited to view the master plans proposed by international consortiums from Sweden, the Netherlands, England, the U.S. and Vancouver. The firms took on the task of devising a way to transform the area into a world-class sustainable community that would be home to 30,000 people.

Each project was exhibited on placards as well as depicted in flyover-style conceptual videos, with the teams that envisioned the proposals on hand to answer questions.

The designs can be viewed on the city's website  at 11:30 a.m, as well as in City Hall over the next two weeks.

Phil Sande, the executive director of the City Centre Redevelopment project, promised that the public would be impressed with the designs put forward, adding that they still fit with Edmonton's character and history without being too radical.

'This, I think, will set a standard in Canada that will be searched out in many places'—Mayor Stephen Mandel

Mayor Stephen Mandel was among those who were delighted by the possibilities.

"This, I think, will set a standard in Canada that will be searched out in many places," he said.

Construction planned for 2014

Each firm was given a $50,000 honorarium to participate. As for criteria that the companies were asked to focus on, Sande said the guidelines were to consider:

  • Cutting-edge renewable energy solutions
  • Public transit
  • Creating more residential, retail and commercial spaces
  • The idea that the newly realized airport lands should become a leader in sustainable design, and a "catalyst for change" for other parts of the city.

With the presentations of the final five designs begins another long process, which will involve a selection committee to judge the pitches and choose a winner. Community consultation is invited.

A 15-month review process on how the design should be rolled out will follow, with input from the public being an integral part of planning. Sande said construction on the 217-hectare site likely won't begin until 2014.

Edmonton city council decided in July 2009 to begin a phased closure of the City Centre Airport, in one of the most highly politicized and controversial issues to affect the city in recent years.

Critics of the plan preferred the airport's proximity to downtown for private and charter planes, and wanted to see the airport restored to its glory days when it operated scheduled passenger service.