Summary of Sierra Club Prairie Chapter -- Urban Issues group -- involvement in EpCor plant re-purposing
The transformation of the Rossdale Generating Station in Edmonton's North Saskatchewan River Valley is currently under discussion. City of Edmonton (Community Services) convened a series of public consultation meetings at the Chateau Louis regarding the future of the site. In this regard, Sierra Club -- Prairie Chapter was represented by two members at the meeting of Sport and Leisure Stakeholders held on August 31, 2011 at the Chateau Louis hotel.
The City of Edmonton invitation to consultation indicated "the City of Edmonton has an opportunity to transform and re-purpose the Rossdale Power Generation Station and riverfront plaza. This is a significant place-making opportunity to reconnect people with the river valley. It also has the potential to reflect our city's stature, transform its community life, and raise the bar on sustainable people-focused design."
Sierra Club representatives noted that EpCor conducted a previous public consultation process in 2005 involving four task force advisory groups (community, parks, history, EpCor). A strong emphasis on sustainability and stewardship was expressed in 2005 by the four task force advisory groups (Community Interests; Heritage Interests; Employee Interests; Parks, Access and Amenities). The Heritage group made specific recommendations to retain the High Pressure Building and the Control Room, noting "interpretive and architectural value".
Sierra Club -- Prairie Chapter commented on the importance of heritage conservation related to both cultural and natural resources found in situ on this unique industrial landscape. It regretted the current demolition of the High Pressure building, the Control Station, and power generation equipment as an immediate loss of historic fabric that devalues a previously intact industrial landscape depicting Edmonton's growth as a city. It advocated the Rossdale site be retained and re-purposed as a place respecting heritage and the environment from prehistoric times to today. Its urban ecology as a historic property on Edmonton's riverside waterfront holds potential to demonstrate and engage sustainability concepts and practices.
Onsite archaeological heritage tells the story of Indigenous peoples who used the river flats. Rossdale Power Plant tells the story of public utilities operated by Edmonton Power. The protection and interpretation of in situ resources, built heritage, and the landscape would benefit public education. Walking tours and cultural activities focused on enjoyment of the site's history, architecture, and environment, were recommended to foster public appreciation and a site legacy. Opening the site to the public and the removal of fence is suggested to provide closer access to the Rossdale Power buildings on the riverfront. Learning and experiential opportunities to promote sustainability are encouraged.
The future of the Rossdale site holds implications for planning and public access to a prime location on the northeast side of the Walterdale Bridge. Design plans for a new bridge will need to consider foot traffic, bicycles, and public transit access to the historic site of the Rossdale Power Plant.
City of Edmonton plans a report forthcoming on October 5, 2011.
Those wishing to get involved should check the City of Edmonton website schedule for public hearings, and plan to attend those of relevance. Further information will be published as it becomes available.