Residents in the area around a proposed Boyle Street high rise had a chance to learn more about the the controversial project Saturday afternoon.
Andrea Wilhelm organized a public information session on the Aldritt high rise, an 80-storey tower that she said is just too tall.
“Why is there a 280 metre tall tower at the edge of the River Valley and at the edge of Downtown blocking views in both directions?” Wilhelm asked. “Why can’t the tower be set further back? In every class picture you ask the tall kids to stand in the back. Why can’t we do the same here when it comes to city development?”
Wilhelm said another concern is that the sale of River Valley land will set a dangerous precedent for similar acquisitions of parkland down the line.
“I personally talked to people in the real estate department, in the City’s real estate department about this, and said ‘Has this happened before?’ And they confirmed to me ‘Not to our knowledge.'”
Saturday’s info session featured a panel of several experts including the North Saskatchewan River Valley Conservation Society Executive Director Harvey Voogd, and Papaschase First Nation Chief Calvin Bruneau.
Speaking to Global News, Voogd explained why suggesting the River Valley can be bought sends a troubling message to developers.
“The River Valley is sacred to Edmontonians. When you ask Edmontonians, ‘What are you most proud of in the city?’, they always talk about the River Valley. It’s the number one thing,” he said. “There’s no need for this tower at this exact location, it’s something the developer wants.”
Voogd stressed that after 100 years of revitalization efforts, the “ribbon of green” belongs to all Edmontonians. He said that economic development is important to Edmonton, but not at the cost of the River Valley park land.
“Their desire for a development that they can get maximum investment from, conflicts with Edmontonians’ love of the River Valley,” Voogd explained. “It’s an inappropriate development at the wrong site, it is an appropriate development at the right site.”