aerial view of park

A 10-year rehabilitation plan guides the renewal of Hawrelak Park to ensure it continues to serve the recreational and event needs of Edmontonians.

Project Update - February 2022

Design for William Hawrelak Park is continuing with preliminary drawings being refined to create a final, construction-ready, design for the project. This includes a more detailed site plan as well as floor plans, elevations and section drawings to support the development permit application process. This level of detail in design provides an understanding of the interdependencies between the scopes of work and the options to stage the construction. Through 2022, detailed design will continue to progress with construction targeted to begin in spring 2023.

The project team, including both City of Edmonton staff and external advisors such as architects, engineers and a construction manager, have evaluated the optimal approach to construction by taking into account multiple perspectives. The analysis included staging of construction through both partial and full park closures. The recommended staging plan includes a full park closure for a duration of up to 3 years. This would start as early as spring 2023 with the majority of the work being completed by fall 2024. The final year, 2025, will primarily focus on the final landscaping establishment including any seasonal deficiencies. It is possible that passive recreation activities may resume in a staged manner during this final year; however, the site will not be prepared to take heavy use and demand during this time.

A few items considered through this process included:

Construction Schedule:  The full closure strategy allows the greatest opportunity to stack construction activities concurrently. The overlapping of activities and resources helps accelerate the timelines and create further agility, ensuring the completion of construction as per the schedule. 

User experience: Although a full park closure is impactful, it allows the best opportunity to minimize park downtime for day to day users and avoid ongoing impacts to festival organizers over an extended period of years (as in a staged approach). 

Complexity and Risk: A significant amount of permitting requirements for this project can be considered and managed in one single request which reduces the overall complexity and risk.

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

Cost: A full closure helps provide the greatest 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.  

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.