The City of Edmonton is considering a new initiative that would re-establish the natural, surface flow of the downstream reach of Mill Creek (94 Avenue to North Saskatchewan River) through a process known as “daylighting.” In the 1960s and 1970s, this portion of Mill Creek was diverted to a tunnel and concrete outfall structure several meters above the North Saskatchewan River.
Human alterations to the creek have resulted in the loss of a number of environmental and recreational benefits previously provided by the creek. Potential benefits of daylighting Mill Creek include:
- Restoration of fish and wildlife habitat
- New access to spawning and rearing habitat in Mill Creek for fish species using the North Saskatchewan River
- Improved air and water quality
- Better pedestrian, cycling, and public transit (LRT) connections in the River Valley and between key destinations in the city
- Enhanced recreational, educational, and cultural opportunities
In March 2017, the City of Edmonton completed a Technical Feasibility Study that examined the technical opportunities and constraints associated with daylighting Mill Creek. In the coming months, the City will continue to evaluate the opportunities, constraints, and costs associated with daylighting before making decisions about whether this work should be undertaken.
Individuals and interested community stakeholders/partners are invited to learn about and provide input on the project, including the conceptual daylighting designs that have been developed to highlight what is possible in the area.
The conceptual daylighting designs were developed on the basis of technical considerations, environmental planning goals, and feedback received from stakeholders, partners, and the general public. They present three potential focuses for daylighting, and serve as a framework for discussions around a potential vision for the area. Depending on input received from technical experts, stakeholders, and members of the public, the final design may resemble one of the conceptual designs presented, or may resemble a combination of features and elements from two or more of the conceptual designs.
Feedback received through the online survey will be used by the project team and City Council to understand public support for the project and the conceptual designs presented.
Conceptual Daylighting Designs (March 2017) (30.3 MB)
Input on the project can be provided:
- Through an online survey from March 30, 2017 to April 9, 2017
- Directly to the project team by mail or e-mail:
City of Edmonton
7th Floor Edmonton Tower
10111 - 104 Ave NW
Edmonton AB, T5J 0J4
About the Project
Mill Creek is a tributary to the North Saskatchewan River and a prominent feature of Edmonton’s River Valley and Ravine System. In the 1960s and 1970s, the downstream reach of Mill Creek was diverted into a tunnel to facilitate the development of a freeway system north of Connors Road. As a result of past modifications, Mill Creek no longer flows directly to the North Saskatchewan River by surface flow, but instead flows underground to discharge at a point upstream of the original discharge point. The alterations to the creek within the city have resulted in the loss of terrestrial and aquatic ecosystem functions, reduced recreational opportunities, and diminished watershed health.
Encroachment of streams has been common practice in Canada, the United States, and around the world. Many jurisdictions are now finding that these activities have resulted in water pollution, flooding, erosion, and loss of ecological services. To mitigate these impacts, efforts are being made to re-establish rivers, creeks and streams. This practice is commonly called “daylighting”.
The City of Edmonton has identified the restoration of connectivity between Mill Creek and the North Saskatchewan River as a key priority for enhancing and supporting Edmonton’s ecological network. Restoration of the Mill Creek channel would re-establish the natural hydrologic and hydraulic regimes that connect Mill Creek to the North Saskatchewan River, and would improve water quality, provide flood mitigation, support biodiversity, and provide recreational and cultural opportunities for the benefit of all Edmontonians.
A technical feasibility study examining the potential constraints, opportunities, and costs associated with daylighting the downstream reach of Mill Creek must be completed before any decisions can be made about whether restoration work should be undertaken. The study has now been completed and provides an overview of existing conditions and constraints, conceptual design options and engineering specifications for daylighting, and an estimate of potential costs.
Public Engagement and Project Timelines
The Technical Feasibility Study, as well as input received on the project, will be brought forward to City Council's Urban Planning Committee on May 24, 2017. The Urban Planning Committee will provide Administration with direction regarding the future of the project and next steps.
December 13, 2016, 5 to 8 pm
Hazeldean Community League
9630-66 Avenue NW, Edmonton AB
The City held an open house to present three draft conceptual daylighting designs (Ecology Focus, Trail Connectivity Focus, or Destination Park Focus) that have been developed based on technical considerations and early feedback from the public. For more information about how initial feedback from previous engagement events was incorporated into the draft concepts, please see the What We Heard report. The public was invited to review and provide feedback on the three concepts.
November 16, 2016, 4-8:30 pm
Cloverdale Community League
9411-97 Avenue NW, Edmonton AB
The City held the first public open house on November 16 to introduce the project to the public and gather feedback on what residents, visitors, and commuters value and prioritize in the area. Input was used to help guide the development of draft conceptual daylighting designs.
Stakeholder Visioning Workshop
October 25, 2016, 5-7 pm
Cloverdale Community League
9411-97 Avenue NW, Edmonton AB
At the October 25 Stakeholder Visioning Workshop, the City introduced the Mill Creek Daylighting project to community stakeholders and subject matter experts. Invitees provided early feedback and expertise that were used to help the project team understand existing opportunities and constraints in the Mill Creek area, and to help guide the development of draft conceptual daylighting designs.
Additional Projects in the Area
Work on the Valley Line LRT between downtown Edmonton and Mill Woods is now underway. Portions of the LRT will be located immediately east of the proposed Mill Creek Daylighting project area between the Muttart Station and the North Saskatchewan River.
Eleven pedestrian bridges and 4 staircases located in Mill Creek Ravine, east of 50 Street and north of 34 Avenue, are past the point of maintenance and are needing to be replaced.