Amarjeet Sohi, one candidate in the mayoral race for Edmonton, has a controversial plan that isn't ringing so well with all city councillors.
"Edmonton’s river valley is our most incredible natural space. It’s a landmark that we are all proud of. So why do I believe that it is a good idea to explore designating our river valley as an urban national park? [...] This wouldn’t change your ability to enjoy the river valley as you do now. But it would mean federal funding that will help us to preserve the river valley—and attract visitors from across Canada," Sohi wrote on Facebook.
"The designation of our river valley as an urban national park would allow us to access federal funds for its protection and elevate our valley’s deserved national reputation as a beautiful place to experience nature in the midst of our city. [...] Preserving, restoring, and enhancing our natural environment is essential to build the Edmonton we want. An Edmonton—and a river valley—for all of us," he added.
Not all are in agreement. Mike Nickel has proposed an alternative proposal that would allow Edmonton to preserve autonomy over the river valley without federal interference, while simultaneously "creat[ing] additional permanent park space and preserve the River Valley for current and future generations of Edmontonians.
His seven-part plan is as follows:
A separate arm’s length organization will be utilized to maintain and preserve River Valley lands.
The purchase of these additional lands will come with a caveat that will prevent any future rezoning applications.
Tax credits that are accrued will apply to all provincial and municipal levies.
Land would be turned over to the City for operations or a new River Valley Board may be created and funded to ensure standards and proper priorities are set and followed through.
Any tax credits that are issued will apply for three years past the date of purchase.
This change in legislation would have a sunset clause of five years with a five-year renewal option.
To reduce unnecessary bureaucracy and improve long-term results, an amalgamated Environmental Office would be created within the City of Edmonton to manage existing and new portfolio.
Jon Dziadyk, ward 3 city councillor, also voiced his opposition to Sohi's plan. "I see no benefit to handing the River Valley over to Ottawa as Edmonton ha demonstrated that we an manage this precious asset ourselves. Having Parks Canada take over would be an abdication of local responsibility and unnecessary red tape no one is asking for," he stated to TBT.