News / Edmonton

Upgrades to Fort Edmonton Park budgeted at $150 million

Fort Edmonton Park’s future plans to better highlight the city’s past will cost more than $150 million, according to a report going to city councillors next week.

Councillors will review the proposal Monday, which calls for an Indigenous People’s Experience, an expanded Hotel Selkirk and Midway and significant upgrades to the park’s utilities, all to be completed before Canada’s 150th birthday in 2017.

Bill Demchuk, executive director of the Fort Edmonton management company, said the expansion is about better telling the area’s history, especially as it relates to Aboriginal people.

“We have been telling a story, part of the Aboriginal story for years, in a small way, but from our perspective it hasn’t been in a meaningful or respective enough way,” he said.

The Indigenous people’s experience would tell stories about the original Aboriginal settlers of Edmonton. The midway would include space for new rides and the hotel expansion would add 22 guest rooms and a large ballroom that could accommodate weddings.

Demchuk said the additions could help improve the park’s bottom line, but they will also tell more of the city’s story.

“This isn’t a for-profit business, but this whole idea is about being able to share more with Edmontonians and visitors,” he said.

He said he’s aware the city’s has real budget pressures, but the park would aim to have help from the provincial and federal governments, as well as doing its own fundraising.

He said the utility upgrades are probably the most pressing concern.

“Some of those utilities that are below ground are past their best before date,” he said.

Coun. Mike Nickel said he supports the project, but he doesn’t think the city, or the other levels of government, will have those funds in the next few years.

“Certainly the money isn’t there from the city, we don’t have the cash to play with,” he said. “Their timeline is just too short.”

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