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Millennium Park to keep more trees

The final concept design of the proposed Millennium Park has undergone a major overhaul in order to preserve some natural trees in the area, says a city official.
0407 WEB Millennium jlh copy
The revamped concept design for Millennium Park in St. Albert, which was unveiled recently.

The final concept design of the proposed Millennium Park has undergone a major overhaul in order to preserve some natural trees in the area, says a city official.

The new design of the proposed park, which will sit in the space nestled between the Sturgeon River, St. Anne Promenade, Lions Park and St. Albert Place, removes the circular boardwalk and one of the open lawns and adds a splash pad, which can be converted into a skating rink in the winter.

The city gathered feedback on the final draft from city residents and internal city departments and made some major changes to the design, said Kristina Peter, planning branch manager with the City of St. Albert.

“We got a lot of comments back about trees and tree retention. There are a lot more trees in the second concept,” Peter said.

After months of engagement the planning team overhauled the draft design to keep a much larger portion of the natural trees in the area and created a different pathway design for a stronger connection to Lions Park and St. Albert Place.

The first draft plan that was released in 2016 featured two large open lawns with a circular boardwalk at the centre of the park. Some of the natural trees were kept in the area but many had to be removed to make room for the open spaces. The new design only has one open lawn, which limits the amount of tree removal.

“We wanted to prioritize those trees a little bit more,” Peter said and added that while it does drastically change the park design, it still respects the vision first laid out for the space.

Activities like the farmers’ market and children’s festival will still be able to be held in the park, and Peters said that the city has mapped out all of the tents to ensure there is enough space.

The removal of the circular boardwalk was done after speaking with city departments after concerns about snow removal were raised.

A splash pad has been incorporated into the design, after council had asked administration to find a place for a new pad within the city. The original recommendation from the city was for Lions Park, but Peter said that they decided to put it in the new park to attract residents to the new space.  In the winter the pad will convert into a skating rink with a fire pit.

“We really tried to focus on four season activities within this park,” Peter said.

The new design also removes one of the buildings that was slated for the property and leaves the park with a pavilion that hugs the open lawn. The space is slated to serve a myriad of activities ranging from concerts to art classes. It will also have a lease space for a café and outdoor seating.

A perk of the new design is that the costs for the park will be lower, although Peter didn’t have any final numbers. Less tree removal, more natural space and only one building will take less of a bite out of the park’s bottom line.

The concept planning for Millennium Park began in 2016 and DIALOG, a design company working with the city, has been spearheading the project. The group did extensive public consultation and in late 2016, it released three potential drafts for the park.

After the group collected feedback, the draft design was released in October 2016. This new concept design released in June is the most recent iteration of the plan for the park.

The next step for the creation of Millennium Park is to receive funding from council for the detailed concept design. Right now, that funding is slated for 2019, but that timeline could change during the next round of budget decisions.

Jennifer Henderson

About the Author: Jennifer Henderson

Jennifer Henderson is the editor of the St. Albert Gazette and has been with Great West Media since 2015
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