Large home proposed for Mill Creek ravine goes to Edmonton appeal board

A proposal to build a house in Mill Creek Ravine will be scrutinized Thursday when opponents express their dismay for a development appeal board.

'What a great place for kids to grow up — playing in the mud, in the creek,' lot owner says

Robert Weinrich got approval from the city to build a two-and-a-half storey house in Mill Creek. (Robert Weinrich)

A proposal to build a large house in the Mill Creek Ravine will be scrutinized Thursday when opponents express their dismay at a subdivision and development appeal board hearing.

"We were shocked that this large house was going to [be] built right beside the bike trail and the creek," Peigi Rockwell, civics director with the Strathcona Community League, told CBC News.

Robert Weinrich says it was never his intention to stop people from enjoying the much-loved creek and trail system. 

"My family photos are me and the kids in the creek — that's my family, that's what we do," Weinrich said.

"What a great place for kids to grow up — in the park, playing in the mud, in the creek," he said. 

In December, the city approved Weinrich's application to build a 4,300-square-foot home at 9213 97th St.

The footprint of the two-and-a-half-storey house will be about 1,200 square feet, Weinrich said. 
The lot at 9213 97th St. in the Mill Creek Ravine where Robert Weinrich intends to build a 4,300 sq. ft home. (Lydia Neufeld/CBC)

Between the trail and the creek, the house will be obvious to thousands who bike, jog or walk the trails, Rockwell argued.

"It's going to loom above us all and above the creek."

City missed chance to buy

Coun. Ben Henderson said he wishes the city bought the property after an older home on the lot burned down in 2007.

"This was a piece of land I wish the city had been able to buy and get back into park land."

Henderson said at the time, the city tried but was not successful in expropriating the land. The lot owner, he said, was asking far above the assessed value for the property.

City Coun. Ben Henderson said he wishes the city had bought the Mill Creek property and turned it back into park land. (CBC)

He said he understands why people are upset about another house going up on the lot and about how the home might "clash" with the multi-use trail system.

"I wish we had maybe looked at it a little bit more," he said. "But we didn't."

'Not a big monstrous house'

Weinrich said he and his family have enjoyed the trail system along the North Saskatchewan River for several years.

"The birds, the squirrels — teaching my kids about nature and about things that matter, not just going to work and making a dollar," he said.

"It is a big house," he admitted. "It's just not a big monstrous house [like] what you'd find out in Windermere, in most of the bigger neighbourhoods when people build a new home."

Weinrich, who now lives in MacKinnon Ravine, said he's building the home from concrete and aiming for an environmentally responsible, energy efficient home.

He said the home won't affect trail users.

"How long does it take you to walk past a house?"

The community league has several speakers lined up to make their case Thursday before the appeal board. 
Peigi Rockwell with the Strathcona community league, at the subdivision and development appeal board office, looks at the application for a permit to build in the Mill Creek ravine. (CBC )

"There's a lot of interest in this. There's a lot of concern for the river valley," Rockwell said. 

The league said the city didn't consult the community sufficiently and that building the house is not in the public interest. Transportation and safety issues will also be raised.

The next steps are up to the appeal board. Henderson said the city has no jurisdiction over what the board decides.