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Hawrelak Park renovations to begin in March 2023: Here's what you need to know


Time is running out to use Edmonton's premier river valley park before it closes for major renovations.

Hawrelak Park is scheduled to close for three years starting March 13 for major repairs the city says are necessary to ensure the greenspace can continue to be used for generations.

Brad Watson, program manager of facility infrastructure delivery, told CTV News Edmonton that after analyzing all the options, the best timeline for the $133-million renovation is to close the whole park for three years.

Most of the infrastructure has not been touched since the park opened in 1964, Watson said.

"So it's either at the point of failure or failing right now," Watson explained. "A lot of it is the underground, the deep utility work, and that is really disturbing for the park."

"It's a complex network underground. I don't think people realize how much utility work is actually underground," he said, adding that stormwater, sewage, gas and electrical lines all have to be replaced.

Doing the work in phases would add to the project's budget and inconvenience people more with no water for washrooms and no electricity for festivals, he said.

During the 2023 construction season, Watson says the goal is to complete the majority of utility and underground work so that during the next summer, all buildings will get a facelift, including the picnic sites, facilities and operations building, pavilion and the amphitheatre.

The scheduled final year consists of wrapping up any unfinished work and giving the landscaping time to re-establish itself.

The Hawrelak Park Heritage Amphitheatre as seen on Jan. 6, 2023 (CTV News Edmonton/Jeremy Thompson).

The city's goal is to reopen the park for winter activity in 2025 or early 2026. All trails within the park will be closed but the perimeter pathways along the river and those leading to the stairs on the south side of Groat Road will be open for use during most of the project.

"It does suck to have to close it for three years," Watson said. "We are saving in the end by doing it all at once, and we want to return the park in a better condition than it is and give them [Edmontonians] a better user experience."

While much of that work will not necessarily be seen by parkgoers once Hawrelak reopens, Coun. Anne Stevenson says, Edmontonians will feel the impacts, like having accessible washrooms and better electrical at the Heritage Amphitheatre.

"It's best to just get it all done and get it done right in those three years," added Stevenson, who represents Ward O-day'min. "I've been hearing from so many people who love the park, who value it so deeply and are so sad to be missing it for three years.

"For me, that really speaks to the value that Edmontonians place on this park. So I think it is incumbent on us to do this work, to revitalize it and ensure it continues to last for generations."

Once Hawrelak Park closes, Stevenson encouraged Edmontonians to explore some of the other river valley parks, like Emily Murphy, Victoria, Buena Vista and Laurier.

"It's a great opportunity to see new sites and then come back and enjoy a greatly enhanced Hawrelak Park," she said. Top Stories


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