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Give Your Thoughts: Draft River Crossing Heritage Interpretive Plan

28 Mar

The draft Heritage Interpretive Plan for the River Crossing (West Rossdale) area is just about complete, and the City of Edmonton wants to hear from you! After a year of reviewing previous research, work and discussions around heritage in the River Crossing area as well as collecting information through the various engagement activities over the past year, the draft plan is ready for public review and feedback.

This will be the last opportunity to provide feedback on this document before it is finalized and goes to City Council this summer.

You can learn about the plan and provide feedback in two ways:

  • ONLINE: the draft plan and feedback form will be available at until April 5th, 2017.

  • IN PERSON: come learn about the process and content of the plan and chat with the project leads at a drop-in open house on Monday, April 3rd at 5:00pm at the Edmonton Tower (10111 104 Avenue). More information HERE

Explore Rossdale – Jane’s Walks Are This Weekend!

2 May


Rossdale, the Power Plant, and the River Crossing are once again entering conversations around Edmonton, and this weekend there’s a great opportunity for Edmontonians to join the conversation during the Explore Rossdale Jane’s Walk!

“Walk from the EPCOR precinct traditional burial ground around the residential / industrial area with historian Kathryn Ivany and members of the city’s River Crossing project to hear about the river, the development and potential redevelopment of the Rossdale neighbourhood. Share your stories of this central vibrant hub of the City and your dreams for its future.”

City Archivist Kathryn Ivany has been leading public history tours through Edmonton buildings, neighbourhoods and cemeteries for over 20 years!

Have Your Say in the Future of Rossdale

15 Dec

The City of Edmonton has received $72.9 million funding from the River Valley Alliance for five projects designed to improve access in the river valley (projects are funded by the provincial and federal governments). One of these projects is the construction of a riverfront promenade called Touch the Water.

The Touch the Water promenade will create a new place for citizens to gather and enjoy the riverfront. Located in Rossdale, the promenade will be a distinctive and special place in our river valley.

The public engagement process for Touch the Water has begun. Interested citizens are invited to share and participate in the City of Edmonton’s online survey.

The survey allows people to provide input into the design of this new project. The survey runs until December 22, 2015, and can be found at

The results of the survey will help inform two conceptual designs for the Touch the Water Promenade, which will be shared for public review in 2016.

Rossdale/River Crossing Update – 6 July 2015

6 Jul

A new update following the City Council meeting on June 30, 2015:

Following the objections of several community groups that the plans for the River Crossing area only included a Technical Advisory Committee with all community groups being designated as stakeholders only, Executive Committee passed the motion below. There will now also be a Community Advisory Committee. We await further direction from Administration as to how this will unfold.

Screen Shot 2015-07-06 at 11.53.55 AM

River Crossing Update and Next Steps

28 Apr
River Crossing c/o the City of Edmonton.

River Crossing c/o the City of Edmonton. Source.

On April 14th, 2015 Edmonton City Council held an information session on the River Crossing area, which includes West Rossdale and the Rossdale power plant. Council did not hear from the public but took the time to listen to presentations from City Administration about the area and to consider what their next steps might be. Administration presented a vision for the area that was largely accepted by Council, thought some refinement was requested around the issue of First Nations history and consultation. 

River Crossing Updates

By June 2015, City Council requests an updated report from Administration on the following:

  • terms of reference for a business case to develop West Rossdale, including the role of the development industry
  • terms of reference for an Advisory Committee to provide input to Administration
  • a refined River Crossing Vision

By 4th quarter, 2015, Council requests a report on the business case and the following:

  • alignment between business case and the design principles in the West Rossdale Urban Design Plan
  • existing city-funded infrastructure programs that could be leveraged to assist development
  • the potential role of the Municipal Development Corporation in developing the district
  • an historical interpretation plan that will bring the River Crossing concept to life

Administration must also issue a request for proposals for a 5-year period for the use of Telus Field, as well as working with the Mayor to advocate to the Province for a timely and definitive decision on whether they wish to work with the City on areas of the River Crossing district.

Representatives from Rossdale ReGeneration will meet with City Administration to discuss these next steps and we look forward to the June 15th Executive Committee meeting when the Administration will provide the requested report.

Letter to Edmonton City Council

8 Apr

Mayor Iveson
All Members of City Council
April 8, 2015

Following is a letter from the Rossdale ReGeneration Group with recommendations to inform the upcoming Council discussion on April 14th on the River Crossing (Rossdale).

Rossdale ReGeneration Group is comprised of Edmontonians with a shared respect for history and a shared belief in possibility. We are architects, urban planners, historians, artists, politicians and members of both the broader community and the River Crossing district. Not only are the buildings a fundamentally important part of Edmonton’s—and Canada’s—past and an iconic, aesthetically pleasing part of our city’s skyline, they also carry immense opportunity. Giving the Rossdale power plant new life will make it an important part of a historic neighbourhood that can connect Edmontonians to a unique and essential part of our story—including aboriginal and Hudson’s Bay trader history, industry and city-building.

Historically and architecturally, the Rossdale power plant is unique. Designed by Maxwell Dewar, an award-winning architect and a president of the Alberta Architects Association, the power plant reflects the elegant style of early-twentieth-century American industrial design, as well as the art deco style popular in that period. Reminiscent of a steamship, the power plant is a sophisticated structure and iconic element in our city’s skyline and river valley.

City Council and administration’s decision to commit resources for the stability and security of the Rossdale Power Plant was much applauded and appreciated by our group.

Currently a community initiated plan with EPCOR and the City is underway to light the outside of the building (west and south walls) in the near future.

The Rossdale ReGeneration Group has consistently promoted revitalization of the generating plant. What, specifically, might a revitalized Rossdale power plant look like? Many ideas have been suggested by and to our group. We envision some combination of the following kinds of repurposing:

  • Aboriginal cultural centre and history museum with an aboriginal crafts market (perhaps as part of the Spirit of Edmonton indigenous cultures and natural history trail)
  • An aboriginal gathering place—round dances, pow-wows, and ceremonies.
  • Non-profit river learning centre, connecting people with the North Saskatchewan River by educating them on the river’s natural ecosystem and cultural and historical significance
  • Cooperative craft brewery, drawing water directly from the river to underscore the importance of clean water
  • Local fine-food shops, cafes and restaurants plus a weekly farmers market (similar to the Ferry Building Marketplace in San Francisco). This repurposing could include an information centre on Edmonton farms and food security; the river valley trails could also be extended out to the northeast farmland area, linking farm and city
  • Arts and music performance area and rehearsal spaces
  • Educational energy playground, explaining the development of twentieth-century power (achieving LEED designation, including solar panels on the roof, could also speak to the future of energy)
  • University of Alberta biological sciences labs and interactive public museum detailing the river’s ecology
  • Local-food restaurant on the top floor of the boiler house or turbine house, taking advantage of the 365-degree view
  • Satellite of the Royal Alberta Museum, highlighting the history of the site and of the city
  • Cafe in one of the pump houses, serving visitors to the site and people walking, cycling, and rollerblading along the river valley trails
  • Native-species natural area in the cleared area to the west of the buildings, representing healing of the land and of the past; this would be a peaceful space for learning, relaxing and reflecting
  • Residential space

On April 14th, City Council will be studying administration’s report on the River Crossing (Rossdale). Our group is convinced that the reimagining of the power plant requires a process that draws on and aligns with the visioning and plans of the entire River Crossing District.

We make the following recommendations:

  • A Transformative Project. Much like Blatchford Field and the Quarters, the River Crossing District will need a unique and different transformative process that recognizes the history on both sides of the river of its First Peoples, early traders and settlers, railroads, industry and vehicles. The River Crossing is the most significant entrance to Edmonton’s downtown, government centre and business district.
  • Resources/Support/Time for the River Crossing Project. A comprehensive and unique, coordinated transformative plan needs careful consideration, time, and financial support to bring it to fruition.
  • Community Advice and Oversight. As a city-making initiative that is transparent and inclusive, the River Crossing project will benefit from support and advice from the Rossdale ReGeneration Group and others (Rossdale Community League, First Nations, Heritage Council, sports and athletics). We are interested in working with city administration in transforming the River Crossing District, an opportunity that will become a special Edmonton place.


Michael Phair
For Rossdale ReGeneration Group

Download the PDF Letter

Re-Imagining Rossdale: A Blog Post from Edmonton’s Historian Laureate

23 Feb

“There are certainly “righter” and “wronger” answers, I believe, in the context of what is appropriate for the city’s vision of itself. To gauge this “rightness” (as opposed to gut-feeling “righteousness”) we have to ask ourselves: What kind of community do we want to create? What do we want our legacy to be?”

Edmonton’s Historian Laureate Danielle Metcalfe-Chenail recently wrote an essay on Rossdale for the Edmonton City as Museum Project where she describes its complex history and challenges the myriad questions surrounding its potential future uses. \

What do you think, Edmonton? What do we want our legacy to be? And where in that legacy does Rossdale fit?

Read RE-IMAGINING ROSSDALE: PEHONAN AND THE POWER PLANT via the Edmonton City as Museum Project.

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