City councillors voted in favour of trying to make a deal to sell two parcels of land in West Rossdale to the Alberta government Tuesday night.
Almost a hectare in size, the lot and alley are being eyed by the province with the intention of expanding the legislative grounds. The land is located at 96 Avenue and 105 Street N.W.
The Alberta government wants to restrict development on the sites to protect the view of the legislature by building a pedestrian corridor connecting the legislature to the river valley.
The city had planned to use the sites for high-density mixed-use residential development, but Edmonton Mayor Don Iveson said he was open to listening to other possibilities.
“If they intend to use it as park land it’s adjacent to city park land and the river valley, we’d just like some assurances about integration and design and maybe even cost savings on collaboration on developing their park and our park. It’s really all a public park as far as the public’s concerned,” he said. “So we just said ‘let’s try to sort through some of those details before we actually seal the deal.'”
Altogether, the city has assessed the land value of both sites at a combined $13 million.
“Price isn’t the issue,” said Iveson. “They’ve made a fair offer.”
There is some urgency to getting a deal done as the province has indicated the funding availability to acquire the land will expire at the end of the year.
The land is in Ward 6, which is represented by Councillor Scott McKeen who has expressed concern over rushing a deal but said he was in favour of talking to the province.
“To pull this off for a set price, the devil will be in the details and I want to hear all those before I’d support it but I certainly support going forward, talking to the province,” McKeen said.
Iveson said he hopes the province will give the city more time to consider a deal if council needs it.
“The province has always had an eye on this land. Frankly, the province had always said they wanted this (land) and every time we asked them before, they said ‘Well, we don’t have any money right now,'” said Iveson. “I think we’ve signalled an intent that we’re willing to work with them and just want to work out some details.They left us hanging for a couple of decades, they can give us a couple of months while we sort out the details.”
-with files from Shallima Maharaj