A Community Exercise
Engagement is central to where the urban gondola idea came from. It was born from The Edmonton Project, a grassroots initiative by the business community to uncover a great city building opportunity for Edmonton, Alberta. And, to do it. It was effectively a city-wide brainstorming competition. What made The Edmonton Project unique is that the business community pledged to do whichever idea won but had no say in which idea won. As is obvious now, the urban gondola idea won The Edmonton Project in March 2018. The legacy of The Edmonton Project is important because it suggests that the gondola itself was the outcome of innovative engagement.
An extension of the philosophy of The Edmonton Project is demonstrated by Prairie Sky's commitment to follow the spirit and intent of the City of Edmonton and the Indigenous Relations Office’s engagement best practices.
We will be in front of Executive Committee on Wednesday, August 10 and seeking Council approval for our real estate and infrastructure agreement on Monday, August 15. Once that happens, the regulatory process can formally start in earnest.
This will mean that in the fall of 2022, we will be doing the environmental, geotechnical, archeological, heritage and paleontology impact assessments. Our Community Engagement Committee and our Indigenous Engagement Circle will start meeting on a monthly basis to provide direct input and feedback on the project. We will also be organizing public engagement sessions seeking formal public input on the project. This input will be tracked and become part of our What We Heard Report to the City. This report as well as all the assessments will be used as the basis for our next meeting with City Council when we will be asking for their approval to start construction. This phase will take about a year and a half until early 2024.
General public stakeholder updates, pop up events, alignment walks, presentations and City meetings are occurring on an ongoing basis, focusing on those immediately along the proposed alignment (Community leagues, EPCOR, adjacent landowners, existing businesses, and various event and festival producers) but also any interested organizations and community groups.
Prairie Sky Gondola has met with all City departments to ensure we understand all of the City’s plans, projects, priorities, and challenges, ensuring we complement City objectives or presents meaningful solutions.
Starting June 2022, you will be seeing our blue tent in Old Strathcona and Downtown. Come say hi, review the alignment and where the stations will be located, and ask questions. If you have a community event you would like us to be at, we would love to connect. Please email us any time!
10310 83 Ave, one block north of Whyte Ave
June 11, July 2, July 30 and August 6
9am - 3pm
104 Street between Jasper and 102 Ave
June 25, July 16, July 23 and August 13
11am - 3pm
We have been organizing free walking tours along the entire alignment of the ropeway. These are wonderful opportunities to see exactly where the stations will be in the neighbourhoods we will be connecting but also to imagine yourself exploring and experiencing these areas in new ways. During the one hour and a half walk we stop at every proposed station location, crossing the river valley and up the stairs into either Old Strathcona or Downtown. If you have a group of 10-50 people who would like to go on an alignment walk, please email us and we can make it happen!
On the banks of the North Saskatchewan River, there is more than 12,000 years of archeological history and culture in the Rossdale Flats. Prairie Sky recognizes the importance of much broader and community-level engagement in the many Indigenous communities that regard the Rossdale flats as having cultural significance.
Letters of support from senior leaders of Indigenous communities is not enough. Prairie Sky is engaging directly with each of the more than 20 Indigenous communities who have identified the lands near the Power Plant Station as historically important.
We have begun to lay the groundwork for our Indigenous engagement through a multi-pronged approach, one that is culturally sensitive and responsive to the individual needs of each indigenous community. We are continually gathering input through emails, letters, phone calls, virtual conversations, in person visits on reserves or in Edmonton but also through sweats and ceremony.
We are also committed to creating stations that are inclusive and safe for all Edmontonians especially Indigenous people. The Power Plant Station will showcase Indigenous stories, a direction informed by Indigenous engagement during Phase One and Two. Through these conversations, it was clear that the entire experience of the Power Plant Station can serve as a powerful platform for reconciliation and recounting the history of West Rossdale. It also provides a means to advance social and economic outcomes for Indigenous communities in the region.
In the summers of 2020 and 2021, Prairie Sky leased the power plant from EPCOR to operate historical tours and educate the public about the gondola project. During the tour, we posed a survey asking if respondents supported our project; 88% of respondents were in favour.
Public Input Makes a Difference
We have had many conversations and gathered some informal feedback, however this does not replace formal input which will be required during the regulatory process through the City of Edmonton public engagement sessions, as well as session we will be organizing. This formal input will be part of a What We Heard report which we will provide to City Administration and City Council.
The informal input has helped us develop, grow and adapt our project. Thanks to early input from the public, the development concept moved from three stations to five stations and one of the towers was moved away from the river bank to protect this ecologically sensitive area of the river valley. We will continue to listen and incorporate suggestions to make this project one that supports the communities it will be a part of.
The preliminary project concept has been presented to many organizations, and through this process, more than 30 letters of support were gathered demonstrating the interest of proven city builders, stakeholders and members of the community. This support has also allowed us to gage interest in communities and confirm that this project is something which would make Edmontonians proud.