Fort Edmonton Park could be the site of the city’s first-ever Nordic spa, if city councillors give the proposal the green light.
The Scandinavian-style spa, announced last month by Edmonton Nordic Spa, would sit on two acres of city land next to Fort Edmonton Park on the existing overflow parking lot, if approved.
“I actually think the Nordic spa is a really interesting proposition for just outside the gate at Fort Edmonton,” said mayor Don Iveson.
“There’s an area that’s technically part of the Fort site but not used as part of the historical activity so I think it could be a very good complement to our intention to year-round activate the park, support the hotel, bring more tourists to the park and to the River Valley.”
Iveson said he doesn’t think the spa would take away from the historical nature of Fort Edmonton Park.
“I think people can distinguish what’s inside the park fence and part of the historical experience from what’s outside and part of the rest of the city,” he said.
“I think the synergies with the utilities, the parking and the hotel and the chance to bring more visitors to a beautiful part of our River Valley and hopefully introduce them to Fort Edmonton, I think it all makes sense to look at.”
The proposal is headed to Executive Committee on Monday, after Fort Edmonton Management Company requested leasing city-owned land so that it could then sublease the land to Edmonton Nordic Spa.
“This proposal is intended to enhance joint tourism opportunities, align with FEMCO’s strategic direction relating to sustainability, product enrichment and accessibility, and complement existing cultural and historic facilities,” reads a report headed to committee.
The group behind the plan said the Nordic spa would like to feature eight pools with different temperatures and characteristics as well as steam and sauna rooms, massage therapy treatment rooms and two places for visitors to dine.
Darren Dalgleish, CEO of Fort Edmonton Management Company, said the location of the Nordic spa outside the park gates makes sense.
“Anything in the River Valley would complement a natural wellness setting that you find with Nordic spas. They’re outdoor settings and they need to take advantage of nature,” he said.
“Adjacent to Fort Edmonton Park we’ve got all the amenities, the parking, the hotel, the food and beverage – all of the other complementary elements the Nordic spa would typically have to build to make it accessible to the public.”
Dalgleish said conversations with the Edmonton Nordic Spa started late last year and touted it as a business partnership.
“I was really excited about this because our strategic direction is about adding new products in a way that’s not dilutive to the park, so we could make more of an effort of sustainability. The spa will do that for two reasons – one, is it will bring…more people down to the park but secondly, it will vertically integrate with all of our business interests inside the park,” he said, citing the commercial kitchen at the park as well as the hotel.
Dalgleish said he does not have any concerns the spa could potentially outshine Fort Edmonton Park.
“My mandate is to grow and build and make the park sustainable. This is one of those sustainability levers you can pull, and we don’t have very many of those in the museum industry,” he said.
There are still many steps for Edmonton Nordic Spa to complete its proposal, including an environmental impact assessment, site location study, an amendment to the Whitemud Integrated Area Concept Plan, a development permit, a building permit and, if required, a land development application to add shops to the River Valley zone.