News / Edmonton

Mayor Don Iveson optimisitic on Blatchford despite economy

Edmonton's next-generation neighbourhood breaks ground and begins construction

Mayor Don Iveson, Coun. Bev Esslinger and Blatchford executive director Mark Hall, along with some children, officially break ground on the Blatchford redevelopment.

Ryan Tumilty/Metro

Mayor Don Iveson, Coun. Bev Esslinger and Blatchford executive director Mark Hall, along with some children, officially break ground on the Blatchford redevelopment.

As shovels ripped into the earth at the former city airport Wednesday, a lagging economy failed to dampen the city’s enthusiasm for the Blatchford development that's now under construction. 

Over the past year, demolition and preparation work has been the focus of work at the site. But Wednesday saw the first construction work to prepare the land for new houses, which will eventually be home to up to 30,000 people, with the first residents expected by next year.

Mayor Don Iveson said he’s eager to move the project forward and isn't concerned about the dip in the economy making it hard to sell homes in Blatchford.

“It’s important to realize that this a 30-year project and there are a lot of developers who are moving ahead on servicing now, so they’re ready when oil comes back and demand comes back up,” he said.

Iveson said the city will build only as fast as demand dictates, but expects many will want to live in the community.

Mark Hall, the project’s executive director said the current downturn has helped the project by reducing costs.

“What we’re finding in the construction industry particularly is that we have been getting great pricing,” he said.

Hall added that market research shows the city that demand for units will be high at Blatchford because it is unique.

Councillors will get an update on plans for a district energy system at Blatchford next month.

Coun. Bev Esslinger said she hopes Blatchford will put the city on the global map.

 “The world is watching us. We want this to be a place that demonstrates that Edmonton is forward thinking,” she said.

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