Overhauling Hawrelak: Edmonton looks for feedback on plans to upgrade river-valley park

One of Edmonton’s most popular parks is due for a revamp, and the city is looking for feedback on their renovation plans.

Public engagement is open until Jan. 25

The City of Edmonton is accepting public feedback on future improvements to Hawrelak Park until Jan. 25. (John Robertson/CBC)

One of Edmonton's most popular parks is due for a revamp, and the city is looking for feedback on its renovation plans.

William Hawrelak Park, a more than 50-year-old park in Edmonton's river valley, became a priority for repairs and renovations because of its aging infrastructure, some of which is more than half a century old.

Utilities, washrooms, picnic shelters, pathways and roads within the park are all being looked at for improvements.

"Pretty well all of the infrastructure in the park is due for a renewal," Rachel Dumont, program manager for the Hawrelak Park rehabilitation project, said in an interview with CBC's Edmonton AM on Monday.

We'll find out what the city has planned for upgrading William Hawrelak Park- and how you can give feedback on what you'd like to see happen there. 7:02

In 2019, the city finalized a 10-year rehabilitation plan for the park after getting public feedback. Much of the feedback noted how the park needed to be refurbished to meet modern standards.

Now the city is going back to Edmontonians to get more feedback on the ideas put on the table.

After taking feedback from the public, administration will present a budget for the rehabilitation project to city council. Construction is expected to begin in 2023.

The goal is to update the park's infrastructure to attract more people. Another aim of the project is to get pedestrians off the roads and into the centre of the park, by making the park more walkable and pedestrian-friendly.

The project also aims to improve accessibility by creating new pathways and paving existing ones, and adding shared use paths and parking for cyclists, Dumont said.

Washrooms were the top concern for members of the public who provided feedback, Dumont said.

"Our washrooms need a bit of a refresh," Dumont said. 

"But more importantly here is that we need to make them a little bit more inclusive by providing a gender-inclusive concept in some of the facilities."

The washrooms, and much of the other existing infrastructure in the parks, also need to be better prepared for cold weather, Dumont added.

Under the scope of the project, nearly half of the budget will go toward improving underground utilities such as the sewer and irrigation systems.

Dumont said another potential benefit of the rehabilitation project is improving the water quality of the lake in Hawrelak Park.

She said the project will also look at how to make the lake suitable for swimming.

The City of Edmonton is accepting feedback on Hawrelak Park until Jan. 25.