Rossdale Power Plant
The City of Edmonton is balking at the cost of rehabilitating the decommissioned industrial site and contemplating stripping it of its heritage status and demolishing.
Why it Matters:
Prominently situated on the banks of the North Saskatchewan River below the downtown core, the Rossdale Power Plant was designated as a Provincial Historic Resource in 2001 after an application for partial demolition by then owner EPCOR Utilities Inc. The power plant consists of three separate but interrelated structures: the Low Pressure Plant, including the Turbine House and Boiler House, the Administration Building, and Pumphouse No.1. Constructed between 1931 and 1954, these buildings represent the history of electrical power generation in Edmonton and Alberta. It is the last steel and brick building of its size remaining in Edmonton and it is the only power plant from this period of this scale in Alberta.
Why It’s Endangered:
For the past several years, the City of Edmonton has touted a rehabilitated Rossdale Power Plant as the centre of its plans for a showpiece riverside arts and cultural centre. Transferred by EPCOR to the City of Edmonton in spring 2013, the City is now balking at a report which says $4.5 million in immediate repairs are needed just to keep it stable, with a further $87.3 million needed to upgrade the facility and the 1.8 hectare site for commercial tenants. The City is opening contemplating requesting that provincial heritage designation be rescinded and the plant demolished. The plant does not have a municipal heritage designation.
Where it Stands:
While some have openly mused about leaving the plant as an industrial ruin, heritage advocates are calling for the City to maintain provincial heritage designation and commit the required funds to stabilize the buildings and allow time for a repurposing plan to develop. The Alberta Minister of Culture has said they will not support the idea of de-designation until all options have been considered. A further report on the viability of the plant rehab is expected in July at which time City Council will make a decision on its fate.
UPDATE 2013: In August, 2013, City Council unanimously voted to invest $3 million to stabilize Rossdale Power Plant over a 10 year period, but delayed a decision on the long-term future of the site, asking city administrators to prepare a capital profile and long-term strategy and report back in a year. Advocates for the site’s protection hailed the decision as a terrific first step to saving the plant.
Construction work to stabilize the building’s roof and exterior walls began in spring of 2015. Earlier in the year, Council voted to set up a special session to consider the various proposals for the site, with the date to be determined.
Update 2020: The city approved providing $6 million towards rehabilitation work, assessing the building’s condition and working on a conservation plan. The site also opened for tours in 2020.
To learn more about the Rossdale Power Plant, click here.
Location: Edmonton, Alberta
Top 10 Endangered Places List: 2013