Edmonton nordic spa proposal inches its way forward

The Edmonton Nordic Spa group and Fort Edmonton Management Company (FEMCO) met with executive committee on Monday to gauge the city’s interest in the lavish development.

Developer has to do environment and traffic impact assessments

This rendering of the Edmonton Nordic Spa reveals the outdoor-indoor aspects of the future spa. (Edmonton Nordic Spa)

A proposed nordic spa in Edmonton is one step closer to getting the green light. 

The Edmonton Nordic Spa group and Fort Edmonton Management Company (FEMCO) met with city council's executive committee on Monday to gauge the city's interest in the lavish development, which could sit on two acres of city-owned land near Fort Edmonton Park.

The proposed development site currently hosts an overflow parking lot and runs parallel to the North Saskatchewan River.

"It's not exactly pristine river valley land," said Coun. Tim Cartmell, who is in favour of the spa and sits as the council representative on the Fort Edmonton board.

"It's really using land that has already been carved out, if you will, from the river valley."

City council's executive committee agreed to lease the patch of land to FEMCO which will, in turn, sublease the land to the Edmonton Nordic Spa group.

That means the spa will be privately funded, Cartmell said.

Cartmell didn't comment on the terms of the lease and proposed time span, but he said it would definitely last more than a couple of years.

"Until there is an agreement, that remains private," Cartmell said, referencing the recent controversy that took place after a private golf course operating in the river valley signed a renewed lease with the city.

FEMCO CEO Darren Dalgleish said the Scandinavian-inspired spa, which will boast a series of hot and cold pools, saunas and steam rooms, will bring more people to Fort Edmonton Park and nearby hotels and restaurants.

"[This] fits squarely with what our strategy is, and that's to grow and expand our offerings in the park or park area," Dalgleish said. "The partnership with the [Edmonton] Nordic Spa group will help drive our tourism priority in the region."

The plot of land proposed for the nordic spa is located between the paved parking lot and the North Saskatchewan River. (City of Edmonton)

He added amenities, like the spa, will attract more people to Edmonton.

"Critical mass is what gets people to stay here longer," Dalgleish said. "There needs to be more to do."

Cartmell voiced excitement over the prospect of a bustling Fort Edmonton community.

"If we've got an opportunity for a private company to come and enhance our city, we should listen to that," Cartmell said.

Even though the city didn't officially sign off on the spa, the project is moving forward, said Hank Van Weelden, the managing partner of the Edmonton Nordic Spa group.

The developer will need to do an environmental impact assessment and a traffic impact assessment.

Monday's meeting represented step one out of many, said Van Weelden.

Because Fort Edmonton recently went through an environmental impact assessment, Van Weelden said his team will piggy-back on work that as already been done.

"That shortens up our process a little bit," he said.

The group hopes to open the spa in 2020.


Anya Zoledziowski is an award-winning multimedia journalist who joined CBC Edmonton after reporting on hate crimes targeting Indigenous women in the US for News21, an investigative journalism fellowship based in Phoenix, AZ.

With files from Natasha Riebe


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