Design for ‘The End of the World’ lookout going to Edmonton city council
The end may be near for “The End of the World” as we know it.
On Tuesday, executive committee passed plans to build a formal lookout at the illicit and unsafe, but popular viewpoint in Edmonton’s North Saskatchewan River valley. City council will debate the plan next week.
“The End of the World” sits at the top of the river bank on Saskatchewan Drive in the Belgravia neighbourhood. It’s above the remains of Keillor Road, which was closed to traffic in 1994 before crumbling into the river due to erosion.
The scenic and remote spot offers a breathtaking view of the river valley and west Edmonton.
Large pillars of an old retaining wall form a makeshift ledge to sit on. But the steep embankment is several metres below and rebar has become exposed from the deteriorating concrete, making the site a serious safety risk.
The fenced-off area is restricted and regularly patrolled — but that hasn’t deterred those looking to take in the view and party at the secluded spot. They’ve become a thorn in the side for Belgravia residents, who have complained of increased noise, litter, parking and late night activity.
“There’s no way to stop people using it,” Ward 8 Coun. Ben Henderson said Tuesday. “We’ve tried that for years. We put up fences, they just came down. You can never do enough enforcement down there and you don’t really want to have to ticket people anyway.”
“It’s been creating a lot of problems in the neighbourhood,” Henderson added. “It’s not so much the people that are using it responsibly; it’s the people that are using it irresponsibly that we needed to be able to deal with.
“We really felt at a certain point this was the only way to really get on top of that… to make it a truly public space that it has good access, that everybody can use safely. And hopefully it will create a real amenity for the city for everybody to be able to use safely.”
Two years ago, the city began looking into developing the site. A study on the slope stability recommended that a viewpoint with a safety fence be built on top of the concrete pillars.
In a report heading to city hall Tuesday, staff are proposing to “cut out” the six concrete slabs located at the tail end of the cliff, which tower 15 metres above the North Saskatchewan River.
There would be both a paved trail and a set of wooden staircases leading down to the site, where there would be “climb-resistant” fencing and regular railings, along with benches, rocks to sit on, a grassy area and garbage bins.
Henderson wanted construction to start this year.
“I’m frustrated and impatient and I know the community is frustrated and impatient, but it’s most important that we get it right. And hopefully we’ll get it sorted out soon and this is a major step forward.”
In 2015, the city conducted a survey on “The End of the World.” A total of 2,568 citizens participated and 2,282 completed the survey, including nearly 600 Belgravia residents.
About half of the respondents had been to the site in the previous year and many came to enjoy the unrestricted view. The main concerns for respondents were the height of the fence and whether the site would lose its “natural” feel.
A crime prevention through environmental design report was also prepared for the site. Among the recommendations: decreasing the perception the area is secluded, installing benches, garbage bins and lighting to promote legitimate use and having dedicated parking to reduce anonymity.
WATCH ABOVE: A unique location in our city is off limits, but the city is looking at making changes. Vinesh Pratap filed this report in 2015.
In short, transform the spot from a hidden hangout popular with young people to a family-friendly city of Edmonton facility.
Based on the survey results, the city recommends moving ahead with the proposed concept plan. If city council approves funding, the project team anticipates construction will start in 2017 or early 2018. The city said the new “End of the World” viewpoint should be in use by late spring 2018.
© 2017 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.