Funding a concern with plan to resurrect Edmonton’s Mill Creek

WATCH ABOVE: Edmonton city councillors want to look closely at resurrecting an old creek. Fletcher Kent has the details.

EDMONTON — Edmonton city councillors say they want to look closely at resurrecting Mill Creek, so it can once again flow into the North Saskatchewan River. But the big question is, who pays for the project?

The waterway winds its way through Edmonton, but about six blocks from the North Saskatchewan it disappears. The creek was covered over in the 60s to make way for bridges and roads.

But now there’s a push to change that, and return Mill Creek back to its original flow.

“The anecdotal evidence, the public support for this is frankly off the charts,” said Paul Bunner, with the Keepers of Mill Creek, a group that formed in 2009 following concerns about the integrity of the creek.

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The Keepers of Mill Creek made a presentation to Edmonton’s Executive Committee Tuesday, pushing the so-called ‘daylighting’ option for the creek.

“It has tremendous ecological and recreational potential that would be of great benefit to all kinds of Edmontonians,” said Bunner. “I’ve talked to old timers who have fond memories of swimming and fishing in the Mill Creek.”

READ MORE: Edmonton group pushes to have portion of Mill Creek resurfaced

City officials believe the plan is doable, but the question comes down to how much it’ll cost.

“There is a lot of complexity with existing drainage, infrastructure and so it’ll take some time to figure that out,” said Grant Pearsell with the City of Edmonton. “This is very early days.”

Some preliminary estimates suggest the project could run anywhere from $10 to $100 million, but proponents think the work could qualify for provincial or federal grants available for things like restoring damaged fisheries.

“I’m not expecting it to happen next year,” said Mayor Don Iveson. “But it could happen sooner rather than later if all orders of government see merit in it.”

The Keepers of Mill Creek says it has a letter of support for the project from Premier Rachel Notley, which gives members hope.

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City administration has been asked to look into how much the project would cost.

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