Rossdale redevelopment plans to create 'special destination,' city says

The City of Edmonton has unveiled redevelopment plans for the River Crossing project in Rossdale. It includes a promenade along the river and repurposing the power plant.

River Crossing designed as 'a place to be, not just a place to pass through'

This is an illustration of an interpretive park and redevelopment of land in west Rossdale. (City of Edmonton)

The City of Edmonton has unveiled redevelopment plans for the west part of Rossdale, including a promenade along the river and repurposing the power plant.

The goal of the River Crossing project is to create "a place to be, not just a place to pass through," said Erik Backstrom, a senior planner with the city.

Final draft images of the potential future design for the area were on display at an open house Wednesday.

Part of the vision is to make River Crossing "a special destination for Edmontonians and visitors to explore and cherish," the city says in the redevelopment concept.

The open house outlined "the gist of the report" that will go to city councillors for discussion and a decision on Aug. 20, Backstrom said.  An original plan was adopted by the city in 2011.

The area to be redeveloped is on the north side of the Walterdale bridge all the way to 97th Avenue and includes the old Rossdale power plant, and some vacant land.

A shared-use path along the river that heads west is "probably the busiest bit of trail in Edmonton," Backstrom said.

The plan will upgrade that stretch of path to include separate dedicated space for cyclists and walkers, and include look-outs.

The city's redevelopment concept for west Rossdale. (City of Edmonton)

There will be a new interpretive park and new commercial and residential development, Backstrom said. The plan includes 1,300 to 2,000 housing units, with five to 10 per cent set aside for affordable housing.

The Rossdale power plant is to be redeveloped for commercial and public use but will not include housing.

Long-term plan 

The work outlined in the plan would be done over the next 10 to 30 years.

"Right now it's almost like a rural area in the heart of the city, it's very quiet in lots of ways," Backstrom said. "It will go from that into an area where there's a lot of things happening but things that are conducive with the history."

There's archeological evidence of Indigenous use of the land going back thousands of years and that history will be honoured, he said.

The original Fort Edmonton stood on the site.

One of the city's renderings shows an interpretive park featuring a teepee but Backstrom said that's simply an illustration of what could happen.

There will be consultations with First Nations to determine what actually happens on the site, he said.

Support from residents

Long-time Rossdale resident Dan Forest welcomes more housing.

"I know a lot of people fight that sort of thing, but I'm of the opinion with, I think, a lot of council and a lot of other Edmontonians that the urban sprawl thing just is not working, it's so expensive," Forest said.

"So having a more dense inner core, I think, is a very good idea."

Forest also supports the repurposing of the old power plant. "I love the idea about having art galleries in there, maybe some shops, a restaurant."

Dorian Rauschning has lived in Rossdale for 28 years. "I'd like to see them capitalize on the history of the district," Rauschning said.

He's not convinced a promenade or repurposing the power plant "creates a destination" that will bring in many people.

But he is glad the city will be developing the empty land,ridding the area of dandelion patches.

City council has already allocated $10 million for design work and initial renovations to the power plant.

If council supports what is outlined in the report at the August meeting then some of that initial work can begin, Backstrom said.


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