aerial view of park

Upon funding approval, Hawrelak Park will be temporarily closing in 2023 for rehabilitation.

Project Update - September 2022

Detailed design is nearly complete and construction is planned to begin in spring 2023. 

Full park closure for up to 3 years is necessary for safety due to the extent of the rehabilitation work. Park closure will begin in spring 2023. It is possible that some recreation activities may resume in a staged manner as construction nears completion.  

The project team, including City of Edmonton staff and external advisors including architects, engineers and construction managers, evaluated many options and determined the optimal approach to construction by taking into account multiple perspectives. The analysis included staging of construction through both partial and full park closures. 

Among the items considered through this process:

Festival Accommodations - we recognize that a total closure is impactful, however, having ongoing restricted operations over an extended period of years if partially staged was not considered desirable either.  

Safety - A large portion of this work will involve replacement of the deep service utilities throughout the entire park.  Underground utilities are disruptive and create safety concerns if any portions of the park are left open.  They require a significant amount of space to undertake the trench and backfill activities. A typical 3-4m deep pipe installation can require up to 16-20m (50-60 feet) width in working space when taking into account both the trench dimensions with safe cutback slopes as well as the space for a spoil pile to stage the excavated material.  

Complexity - There are significant interdependencies with utilities.  If we phased the work, we would either have to provide temporary services of most utilities in order to keep the park operating, or we would have to cut off some services until work was complete.  Neither option would be appealing to the public or festival teams.

Risk - We anticipate a significant amount of permitting requirements for this project that can be considered and managed in one single request which reduces the overall risk.

Construction Schedule - The full closure strategy allows us the greatest opportunity to stack activities concurrently. This overlapping of activities and resources helps accelerate the timelines and create further agility ensuring the completion date committed to the public has the greatest chance of success.

Cost - A full closure helps provide greater assurances of the total cost for the project. It will be less susceptible to inflation and market pressures including changing codes and standards, regulations and permits. There is also expected to be less temporary work that otherwise may be required when proceeding in a staged approach.

User Experience - One way of promoting a good user experience is through consistency. Our objective will be to maintain active trail detours around the park once it’s fully closed to ensure that users can traverse the river valley trail system. Having consistent access and circulation around the construction area will aid users navigating the area as opposed to avoiding it all together.

Park Operations - Addressing the full scope of work under a total closure allows for the accelerated benefits of the renewal work contributing to enhanced serviceability and reliability issues in a more timely manner.

The project team explored all options, conducted an extensive amount of engagement and determined the best course of action. This was a difficult decision. As construction progresses, the team will actively work to identify areas where passive recreation activities may resume in a staged manner as the rehabilitation progresses. 

Pedestrian and Cycling Paths

As part of the River Valley Park system, William Hawrelak Park is part of Edmonton’s existing regional trail network, but lacks a strong internal pathway system. Currently, the park road is the only paved path to travel around the park and is jointly used by vehicles, pedestrians, and cyclists. There are limited paths that link amenities and open spaces within the park, and of those, only a very limited number are considered accessible.

A new  internal pathway system is intended to connect visitors of all abilities to the various amenities in the park, through all seasons, as well as provide safe paths of travel around the park. 

Using the public’s feedback, and combined with an analysis of factors such as topography, ski trails, tree impacts and environment assessment, this layout was selected.

Waterfront Feature Walk

To celebrate the distinct core area of the park by the water’s edge, a new, accessible waterfront walk is proposed to create a link between major lakefront amenities. The walk itself will be a new amenity to be enjoyed within the park and will connect the main pavilion, boathouse and Community League Plaza as shown in the  diagram .

sketch of new walkway with pedestrians and people sitting on side bench

Pathways in Winter

The rehabilitation of the park considers use during all 4 seasons with careful attention being placed on improving winter use. To this end, these new pathways have been considered in terms of their alignment with cross-country ski trails, and are intended to be cleared of snow in the winter.

As with the pathway system, special consideration is being given to ensure the waterfront feature walk works well in the winter. Skating on the lake is a beloved winter activity. The design considers how the snow will be cleared and piled to maximize use and access to the amenities this waterfront feature connects to. This  map shows which paths will be cleared of snow in the winter.

Lake Water Quality

Lake Water Quality Feasibility Study was completed in 2020 by Applied Ecological Services (now Resource Environmental Solutions). The report summarizes the conditions at and surrounding Hawrelak Park Lake and assesses the best management practices to improve water quality in the lake. The findings of this report were presented to the Community and Public Services Committee on April 14, 2021.

Design of the identified best management practices is proceeding in this current phase of design. These practices include:

  • Removal of sediment by dredging to the clay liner
  • Densely planting shrubs on the islands
  • Planting shoreline buffer on land and emergent vegetation in the water at the lake edge

About the Park

William Hawrelak Park is a 68-hectare park in the river valley and is one of the most popular parks in Edmonton. It hosts several major festivals and events throughout the year and is a great location for all Edmontonians and visitors to explore and enjoy.