Constituent Update: Terwillegar Footbridge

***The Edmonton Country Club has retained legal counsel regarding the proposed temporary expropriation of a construction easement on their property.  Therefore, there is a limit on information publicly available on this issue.***

 

Updated: 2014-03-19

 Next Steps

 

A non-statutory public hearing will be held at City Council’s Executive Committee at 1:30 pm on April 8th to discuss the Environmental Impact Assessment for the Terwillegar Park Footbridge and Recreational Trails, and the Terwillegar Footbridge Site Location Study.  Residents are encouraged to come to the hearing at City Hall, and can register to speak at the hearing as well.  Please be aware that this hearing will not be debating or voting on the issue of expropriation.

 

For further information on progress on the footbridge and the new trails connecting it to the Fort Edmonton Footbridge, there will be a public Open House on May 31, from 10:00 am to 3:00 pm at the Alfred H. Savage Centre (13204 Fox Drive NW). The final designs will be presented, along with details about project timeline and community impacts.

 

Building the Footbridge

 

There will be a paved trail connecting the Fort Edmonton Footbridge to the Terwillegar Footbridge through the Oleskiw parklands.  The route for this trail was chosen based on feedback the City received from a public open house. The route is currently undergoing an environmental impact assessment, which will be presented to City Council’s Executive Committee on April 8, 2014.

 

Public engagement was sought throughout the design stages of this project.  This includes several stakeholder meetings with affected groups, and a community open house on September 21, 2013, that was attended by over 200 people.  Public input from these sessions was incorporated into the design of the project.

 

The majority of the Terwillegar footbridge will be built from the south side of the river, but construction crews will still need to access the north bank to complete construction.  The only feasible access route is through the Edmonton Country Club’s main road.  The Sustainable Development Department examined several other options for construction access to the footbridge site, but all other options were found to be cost-prohibitive and/or impossible to use with our construction timeline. Some constituents have suggested using Woodward Crescent as an access point.  However, due to the heavy cost of stabilizing the slope to make the road suitable for construction equipment, this option will not work.

 

As negotiations with the ECC did not progress, City Council voted on September 18, 2013, to start the process of temporarily expropriating the access road, while continuing discussions with the property owner to find a mutually agreed upon solution.  The City served expropriation papers to involved parties on Monday, March 10, 2014 and it was advertised in the Edmonton Journal on Tuesday, March 11, 2014.  Negotiations continue between the City and the Edmonton Country Club.

 

In order to minimize the inconvenience to the Edmonton Country Club, the City of Edmonton is suggesting using the road primarily outside of Club hours, where construction permits. After the completion of the bridge in 2015, the City will return the road to its original condition before handing it back over to the Club. I understand that Club has retained legal counsel in regards to the expropriation process, and I will be unable to comment on any part of that process that is not publicly available.

 

Many constituents have expressed the concern that the City’s temporary expropriation of the road will become permanent, potentially causing significant harm to the Country Club.  I would like to reassure the residents of Oleskiw and the users of the ECC that this is not being discussed and cannot happen as part of this expropriation process.  The province’s Expropriation Act does not allow a municipality to change the terms of its expropriation unilaterally in the middle of the process.  Furthermore, current discussions are designating Terwillegar as the “active” site (which includes vehicle access with parking) and Oleskiw as the “passive” site, which means access through foot traffic only.

 

Background

 

In late 2012, the federal government’s Building Canada Fund approved extra funding for a footbridge to connect Oleskiw and Terwillegar parks.  This bridge is one of the final pieces needed to complete the Ribbon of Green project, a regional network of walking and bike trails through the North Saskatchewan River valley from Devon to FortSaskatchewan.  The bridge and connecting west end trails will cost $28 million, out of the $72.9 million total for the River Valley Access Project.  This project is receiving $24.3 million from the River Valley Alliance, $22.6 from the provincial government, and $24.3 from the federal government, with the City of Edmonton paying only $1.63 million.  This is an opportunity for Edmonton to build needed infrastructure while saving our taxpayers millions.  However, in order to meet the federal government’s funding deadlines and access these multimillion-dollar grants, construction on the bridge must be completed and all invoicing submitted by the end of 2016  If we fail to do this, it will cost Edmonton taxpayers millions of dollars more to build this high-priority piece of infrastructure.

 

For any additional questions or concerns, please feel free to contact my office at 780-496-8120 or at michael.oshry@edmonton.ca.  I want to ensure that this process is transparent, and that the residents of the affected neighbourhoods have all the information available to them

 

Helpful Links

TerwillegarPark Footbridge: http://www.edmonton.ca/city_government/projects_redevelopment/terwillegar-park-footbridge.aspx

 

News Release: City Council Approves Construction of Footbridge and Trail mprovements at TerwillegarPark (July 25, 2013)

http://www.edmonton.ca/city_government/documents/Terwillegar_Park__News_Release_July_25_2013.pdf