City may expropriate Whitemud Amusement Park land for LRT expansion
Published Saturday, November 17, 2012 5:56PM MST
Last Updated Saturday, November 17, 2012 6:28PM MST
The future of an outdoor amusement park in southeast Edmonton may be jeopardy after failed negotiations over land for the southeast LRT expansion.
City documents show negotiations over land being eyed for the southeast LRT expansion have stalled and if the project is to move forward, council may need to vote to expropriate the land they need.
A report to be presented to executive council on Monday says “to date, negotiations with the property owners… have failed to result in agreements being reached to purchase these properties.”
The report says expropriation is the next step to “ensure that the city gains ownership and vacant possession of the required properties to facilitate the construction schedule for this project.”
That means a summertime favourite for thousands of Edmontonians, the Whitemud Amusement Park, along with neighbouring business, could be forced to close.
The land where the amusement park currently stands is being eyed for the southeast LRT expansion from downtown Edmonton to Mill Woods.
“As much as we value every business in the city as much as anything, progress has to be put in priority and we need to be able to build the city, but work with businesses and communities to make sure that we deliver a fair and equitable way to solve the problem,” said Mayor Stephen Mandel.
Coun. Kerry Diotte says when the expropriation recommendation is made on Monday, he’ll have some tough questions for city staff.
“It’s never great when you get to a position of expropriation. We have private property rights and that’s a terrible thing to have to do,” Diotte said.
“Is there any other way to do this? Have we considered every other option? We live in a society that really values private property, so it’s just not a good situation and if there’s any other way to do this then I’d like to discuss it.”
Construction on the LRT expansion is slated to start in the spring of 2014.
It will be up to city council to make the final decision whether or not to move ahead with expropriation of the land, and if the decision is to expropriate, Diotte imagines it would happen fairly quickly to keep in line with the spring 2014 start date.
Still, Diotte says expropriation would be a last resort.
“Anytime you lose a little recreational area like that, it’s very unique, I’m sure there are a lot of memories made there over the years,” he said.
“Expropriation is the last thing you want to do.”
Edmontonians who spoke to CTV News on Saturday offered mixed opinions on whether they’d prefer to see the amusement park stay, or have an LRT line run through.
“I’m not in favour of that,” said Chris Leathem. “I’d prefer to keep Whitemud Amusement Park.”
“It’d be handy to get an LRT all the way down to Mill Woods but it (the amusement park) is a good place,” said Dylan McGrann. “I’ve got some good memories going there.”
“I’d rather see an LRT because it’s important for people to get to and from,” said Perry Lighting.
Attempts from CTV News to reach the owners of Whitemud Amusement Park on Saturday were unsuccessful.
The former owner of the park did tell CTV News that talks with the city have been ongoing for several years but a compromise has yet to be reached.
With files from Breanna Karstens-Smith