Great News for NE Edmonton
The uncertainty created by the North East River Crossing for landowners and small businesses in Edmonton’s northeast has been a real problem for many years. Since the river crossing was first proposed, stakeholders in Ward 4 have been voicing their concerns about the controversial project.
When I was out door knocking and visiting families in the area during my election campaign, I was asked what I was going to do about it, and I made it one of the priorities I would focus on.
I committed early on to fully supporting the business owners and residents in Ward 4 through my position on City Council in their effort to see the project either moved or cancelled. I made plans to bring the issue forward and explored talks with our regional partners.
Through these discussions, there was agreement among the partners, mainly the Alberta government, with strong support from local MLA Heather Sweet, and the City of Edmonton to find a way to mitigate the negative and controversial impacts of the project.
I have been working actively with Minister Mason and Administration on this for some time and was very happy to see a new committed capital investment from the Provincial Ministry of Transportation announced on May 25th for a heavy haul bridge to cross the North Saskatchewan River along Highway 38. The Government of Alberta has now determined that provincial transportation needs in the region will be met for the foreseeable future and views another river crossing in the region as unnecessary. This renders work on the Study now redundant.
The Government of Alberta does not support further work regarding the development of the North East River Crossing and Alberta Transportation has directed provincial officials to work collaboratively with city officials to conclude this study without undue additional costs, while meeting any outstanding contractual obligations on behalf of the province.
It was important to the me that the timing for this cancellation take place before the next planned round of public engagement so as not to expend time and resources on a public process that was not necessary.
At the public engagements the feelings were clear- the NERC would disrupt river valley trails, impact agricultural and traditional uses of the land, and create uncertainty for property values and land sales.
People also said they wanted to see a heavy haul bridge built sooner than 25 years from now and they wanted the project moved outside of the NERC study area.
This new provincial capital project accomplishes everything the public was asking for. It retains valuable agricultural and natural land, provides transportation needs for the broader region, and is a major financial benefit for Edmonton as well. The City of Edmonton will no longer have to expend scarce capital dollars for a new bridge and property owners now have more certainty as the area develops without the disruption of the proposed bridge through residential areas.
The positive reaction from the community has been wonderful to see and I’m happy to see the province stepping up to provide both a route for our industry partners in the heartland to move products around the region, as well as an answer to the concerns voiced about the proposed North East River Crossing.
I’ve put forward a Notice of Motion to Council that would direct Administration to do the following:
1. Immediately conclude all work relating to the North East River Crossing (including technical studies, and public engagement) and
2. Work with Provincial officials and regional partners to complete any outstanding steps that may be necessary to finalize the City of Edmonton’s withdrawal from the North East River Crossing Planning Study project, including advancing any necessary amendments to the Horse Hill ASP for Council’s consideration.