The potential that exists with the Blatchford Redevelopment is the envy of cities worldwide. With the ability to completely design and develop a neighbourhood around sustainable principles, with such close proximity to the downtown core is an opportunity which is unprecedented. This development will transform the 217 hectares of land into a vibrant mixed-use community that will provide housing to 30,000 Edmontonians of all stages of life, and will contain retail and office spaces to businesses which will employ 11,000 people, and parkland and garden spaces for all to enjoy.
What I find most exciting about this project, is that since we are developing an entirely brand new centrally located community around current City infrastructure, it can be planned to make use of what already exists, thus making use of the best of both new and old to ensure that the final project is as efficient as possible. With access to LRT and transit thanks to the current NAIT LRT expansion, those looking to travel downtown or beyond will be able to do so easily through all modes of active transportation. Blatchford will represent a model sustainable community of the future found directly in the heart of our century old city.
There is no doubt that the City Centre Airport played a pivotal role in helping to build Edmonton into the great city that it is today and that without its existence, we would not be where we are currently. With that being said, it is important to recognize that times have changed, and that to help move Edmonton forward, we must reevaluate how we use our resources to maximize the benefit to the city as whole. While the decision to move forward with this redevelopment was the responsibility of the previous Council (2007-2010), I respect the countless hours they devoted to debating the pros and cons of this issue. There are always tradeoffs, and I have unwavering confidence that the right decision was made, and that the correct precautions are being undertaken to ensure a smooth closure of the current facility.
I am really looking forward to seeing this project begin construction. The Master Plan for Blatchford was completed in early 2012, detailed design work has taken place, and shovels are planned to be in the ground in 2014. The first people could be living and working on site as early as 2016.