Edmonton pushes forward on restoration plans for Mill Creek revival
But rehab will cost tens of millions
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Making portions of Mill Creek come alive again will cost anywhere from $50-$130 million, but it’s something city planners say residents are keen on fixing.
The estimates were discussed at City Hall Wednesday, and come after planners look to “daylight,” or restore, parts of the popular park space so fish can swim again.
In the 1960s and ‘70s, the city closed up a portion of the creek (from 94 Avenue to the North Saskatchewan River) to make way for a large interchange. To do this, crews built a tunnel to divert water from the creek into the river.
But the interchange, which residents fiercely opposed, was never built, so the city has been stuck with the tunnel ever since.
The city now knows it’s feasible to restore the creek as a fish paradise —they just need the cash to make it happen.
“Costs are significant,” said Grant Pearsell, director of urban analysis with city planning at the city. “But there’s strong community support, and there’s an opportunity to meet the city’s recreational, ecological, transportation and sustainability goals.”
It becomes more costly for the city to restore the creek if they want to add things like public washrooms, recreation facilities, barbecues and picnic tables, Pearsell explained.
But Charlie Richmond, with the Sierra Club, said the city should focus on getting fish to actually return to the creek, and then go for the extras.
“You can’t just open it and expect the fish to come,” he said. “It won’t be cheap, but we want you to spend some money.”
Following the discussion, city councillors requested Mayor Don Iveson push the province to help fund the creek’s revival. On top of that, they also instructed staff to come up with a funding package for the ‘Master Plan,’ which will provide more details on how the city can restore the waters, as well as create designs to depict how the park would look.