Mill Creek Ravine daylighting being pushed by Edmonton city councillor

File: Mill Creek Ravine in Edmonton. Caley Ramsay, Global News

A new Edmonton City Hall report that is due for next week’s round of city council committees will look at potential trail realignments in the Mill Creek Ravine park system.

Ward 11 Councillor Mike Nickel wants to take advantage of that opportunity to kick start the daylighting proposal for the ravine that was pursued by area residents in 2015. The review was done at the time when the Valley Line LRT planning and design was underway.

“Given the fact that we’re doing all of this construction and rehab and so on up and down where the Mill Creek is, this is just providing the opportunity to do the technical studies, and get this moving forward.”

Daylighting re-establishes the natural channel, that was diverted by sewer pipes and paved over in the 1960s. Some background work was done by city staff since this was last before city council, the daylighting project has been re-evaluated and will be put forward in future budget cycles.

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A budget profile was done in the fall of 2017 but at that time it didn’t go forward. The city reached out to the province, but never heard back.

Rachel Notley, as the MLA for the area, wrote a letter of support in March 2015. All the city heard from the federal government was from Fisheries and Oceans Minister Dominic LeBlanc, who said he couldn’t fit a request to meet into his schedule.

“What seems to have happened is, it’s fallen off the provincial and federal desks,” Nickel said. “So at this stage we’ve just got to pop it back up to the top and get this back on their radar because I think it’s the right project.”

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His plan is to get some partnering from the other orders of government on the initial cost.

“The technical studies several years back were like $1.8 million, so obviously that’s got to be adjusted to today’s dollars. But the first thing we’ve got to do to make this go, given the budget is so tight, is go get some provincial buy in. I think I’ve got to go knock on a few doors to do that and then probably the feds will come and the city should follow after.”

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Nickel agrees that provincial money will be tight. At a news conference in south Edmonton on Monday, Premier Jason Kenney said that the province plans on rolling a $5-billion capital budget down to the neighbourhood of $3.4 billion.

“We’ll see what they say. I’m not shy about knocking on some doors, trying to make some things happen,” Nickel said.

“It’s used, not just as a creek, but as a recreation facility. But it’s also about protecting the environment, biodiversity — all of those fancy words for — it’s good for our environment. So at the end of the day, this seems like a no-brainer.”

At next Tuesday’s meeting, the committee will be asked to approve an environmental impact assessment and a site location study.

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