EDMONTON – The province is looking into its options as it mulls the future of the Royal Alberta Museum (RAM) and the surrounding land.
Alberta Infrastructure is calling on consultants to submit proposals to examine the “potential development of RAM into public green space.”
The museum closed its doors last year and is moving into a new space downtown, where it expects to open to the public by late 2017 or early 2018.
The property mentioned in the province’s request for proposals (RFP) includes the museum, Government House, a warehouse, a gazebo, a shed and a large parking lot. There are 14 acres of land in total.
“The purpose of this project is to complete a comprehensive demolition/deconstruction assessment of the building and site and develop schematic design to redevelop the site into an open green space,” the RFP reads.
The report is also looking for an assessment of the features that would affect the development of green space, such as topography and drainage, utility and road right-of-ways, consideration of historical buildings located on the site and the reclamation of surplus parking.
Tracey Larsen, spokesperson for Alberta Infrastructure, said a green space is one option the ministry is looking at and that it is examining all options for the parcel of land.
Mayor Don Iveson calls the RAM land a “wonderful site” and is eager to know what the province plans to do with it.
“I think there is great potential for it to continue to be some kind of museum into the future – repurposing makes a lot of sense. It’s provincial land. It’s their decision but obviously Edmontonians have a great stake in what happens there,” he said.
Iveson said there have been no concrete discussions between the city and the province over the future of the land but he is hopeful the current infrastructure will remain intact.
“If there’s an option to adapt and reuse the building, that’s usually better and a better use of energy and resources than pulverizing it. I hope that option will be explored,” he said.
“It’s architecturally a great building and could work well for museum uses or other kinds of public uses.”
Councillor Andrew Knack said there is a lot of historical significance behind the RAM and its surrounding lands.
He said any decision will impact not only the nearby Glenora neighbourhood, but also the city as a whole.
“It’s tough to say with absolute certainty what should go there. I think the idea of a green space sounds wonderful. Obviously we’re also trying to work on respectfully increasing the density throughout the city and trying to bring people back to our mature communities,” he said.
“So is there an opportunity to do something of a respectful residential development along a green space? You probably have enough space that you can do a couple of different things there.”
However, those with ties to the Glenora neighbourhood said they don’t want any major changes to the property.
“We want to see the [museum] remain intact. It’s a very fine, high-quality building. It would be a very bad thing to see it demolished,” said Margaret Robinson, an historian with the Old Glenora Conservation Association.
“Should demolition take place…the only option for the space would be the grounds as a park. That would fit in with [Government] House and it would eliminate any idea of commercial projects or housing projects taking the place of the museum, which wouldn’t be suitable for Government House or the neighbourhood.”
Mark Nicoll, vice-president of the Glenora Community League, said he hopes there is consultation with the Glenora community and with other Edmontonians over the future of the land.
“It’s a central feature of the community,” he said.
“I think there would be a lot of concerns on the part of neighbours if there was some sort of non-public use of the space. I think this is an important piece of land to Albertans.”
Larsen said there is no timeline on when any decision will be made about the future of the land. She said any option must wait until at least 2019, which is when the museum will be vacated. She adds that Government House will not be demolished and would not comment on the value of the parcel of land.
The contract starts March 31 and is expected to be completed by July 23.
The project has a budget of $300,000.
© 2016 Shaw Media