High Level Bridge waterfall too costly for councillors

The future of the High Level Bridge waterfall may left in the hands of Edmonton citizens, after city councillors balked at the million-dollar price tag to re-open the taps.

City council committee hopes citizens step up to save attraction

City councillors are hoping citizens will step up to save the High Level Bridge waterfall. (CBC)

The future of the High Level Bridge waterfall may left in the hands of Edmontonians, after city councillors balked at the million-dollar price tag to re-open the taps. 

The cost — between $1.1 and $2.6 million — left Coun. Mike Nickel recommending the taps be turned off for good, but other members of the Community Services Committee said they don't want to go quite so far.

Coun. Bryan Anderson suggested  the project should be shelved for a couple of years in the hope that a community fundraising effort will spring up similar to the highly successful Light the Bridge campaign.

Mayor Don Iveson said he'd like to see a hard deadline as early as September, adding that people will either get excited about the effort or not.

"If someone wants to take that initiative, there's precedence for us to be open to it as we were with Light the Bridge," he said. "But as far as city dollars going into it any further, I think the taps are shut off."

Coun. Ben Henderson calls the Great Divide waterfall iconic — a donated work of art the city should be spending money to preserve.

"Fighting to create new icons when we can't take care of the ones we had seemed a little bit backwards in thinking," he said. "I'm disappointed."

The $735,000 that city council had set aside to get the waterfall flowing again will now go back into general revenue to be spent elsewhere.

The 64-metre waterfall was installed on the High Level Bridge in 1980, to celebrate the province’s 75th Anniversary.

It was shut down in 2009 over concerns about the environmental impact of pumping chlorinated water into the river.

With files from CBC's Lydia Neufeld

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