August 16, 2016 6:23 pm
Updated: August 16, 2016 8:27 pm

Edmonton unveils plans for first residential phase of Blatchford redevelopment

WATCH ABOVE: Despite putting the Blatchford development on hold for a year, the city has unveiled more details about its plans for the environmentally-sustainable community planned for the old City Centre Airport. Fletcher Kent reports.

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Plans for the first residential phase in Blatchford, the site of the old City Centre Airport, were revealed by the City of Edmonton Tuesday.

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Approximately 250 townhomes, low- to mid-rise condos and apartments will be built in the first phase, located on the west side of the site. New renderings released by the city also show ponds, several kilometres of walking trails and park spaces.

“It’s very exciting to see a little bit more of what the look and feel of phase one is going to look like,” Mayor Don Iveson said. “It’s going to be unlike much of what you can find elsewhere in Canada and this truly will be one of the most sustainable communities on Earth … a walkable, urban lifestyle. Close to services, close to transportation options and with great public spaces to be outside and to bring community together.”

Work to install underground utility services started at the site in July. The mayor said optimistically, Blatchford could see its first residents move in in 2018. That’s about one year behind the original plan.

READ MORE: City of Edmonton to begin installing underground utilities at Blatchford site

One of the main reasons the projects has been delayed is due to the energy strategy. Earlier this year, city council put the project on hold for one year in order for the city to assess green energy options and funding.

The extension is also meant to give the city time to lobby the provincial and federal governments for funding for the highly-anticipated carbon-neutral community. Iveson said he thinks the city is moving at a responsible pace.

“In the grand scheme of things, given how complex an undertaking this is, both for the city or the private sector, we’re actually doing reasonably well,” he said.

“Every time council rushes something we don’t necessarily get the best outcome. When we do our diligence on it and get the details right, leverage the creativity of our staff, our consultants and private industry, that’s when we get the best results.”

READ MORE: Edmonton city council hits pause on Blatchford residential development

Scott Whitlow is the board chair of the Kingsway Business Centre, which represents the businesses in the Blatchford area. He said it’s nice to finally see some forward movement on the project.

“It’s been a long time,” he said. “I think everyone would like to see things moving maybe a bit quicker but at the end of the day, it’s more important to do it right than to do it fast.”

The environmentally-sustainable community will eventually be home to about 30,000 people. Another 10,000 to 12,000 will work at the site. While Whitlow sees great business potential in the area, he said many have been hesitant to commit to anything because too much remains up in the air.

Some of the other elements being built into the first residential stage include recycled runway benches, separated bike lanes and urban gardens.

A report detailing the renewable energy utility model is due back to council later this year. Iveson said once the energy strategy is in place, the competition to select builders will begin.

For more information on Blatchford, visit the development’s website.

With files from Fletcher Kent, Phil Heidenreich, Global News.

© 2016 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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