WATCH: Crews are tearing up the old City Centre Airport, but some on city council wonder whether any developers will be interested in building houses there. Fletcher Kent has more.
EDMONTON – Just over one year since the last aircraft took flight from the City Centre Airport, the Blatchford redevelopment project is taking shape. And, it may be more like the airport than some might have expected.
On Wednesday, City of Edmonton officials offered a first look the project’s environmental efforts, including how it will recycle and reuse the airport’s old hangars and runways.
The redevelopment – which will eventually house up to 30,000 residents – has been touted as one of the largest sustainable developments in the world.
In June, city council gave the green light to what designers called a “watered down” version of the project. The city said the original plan was just too costly.
“We are building Blatchford to be a leader in environmentally-friendly community design and to serve as a model for sustainable communities around the world,” explained Mark Hall, executive director of the Blatchford redevelopment.
The former airport hangars are being deconstructed and the materials sorted for recycling, reuse or waste. The city says a minimum of 85 per cent of the waste from buildings will be diverted from the landfill.
“This commitment to reducing Blatchford’s environmental footprint has to start at the very first stage of construction,” said Hall.
“To maintain responsible environmental development over the course of the construction, we are essentially finding ways to recycle an airport.”
All of the old airport runways will be removed and recycled. The materials will be used to construct the roads in the new Blatchford community.
The soil that is dug up to create storm water ponds will be used to build a large hill in the Blatchford community instead of being hauled off-site. The city is also looking at how a district energy system to reduce green gas emissions in the community might work.
The first phase of construction is set to start in early 2015. Blatchford is scheduled to be ready for residents to move in as early as 2016/2017.
“We’re on track and on schedule in our first phase of development,” said Hall.
He said formal requests for the project haven’t gone out to industry yet, but that the process will begin early 2015.
However, one city councillor has questions about the overall timeline.
“I’m not sure if they’re on time or not,” said Councillor Tony Caterina.
“The promise was to have the first buildings up there in 2014, so any delay from that really isn’t on time as far as I’m concerned.”
“Hard to put a timeline when you haven’t actually started the reclamation of the entire site,” he added.
Caterina says he’s heard developers won’t be eager to step up to the project until the land is approved by the province.
“They’re not interested, and I can see why. Until that land is certified clean by the province… the banks are not interested.”
Councillor Bev Esslinger believes there’s a lot of interest in the project, but that developers will have to abide by high environmental standards.
“It’s not business as usual, so we’re going to make sure those guidelines are in place so that we can ensure that happens.”