Edmonton is planning to replace the pedestrian footbridge over 170th Street that once connected west end residents to the West Edmonton Mall in a new split funding agreement.
The footbridge was demolished in 2018 following inspections by the city that found it to no longer be structurally sound.
A report set to go before the executive committee later this month outlines the details of a cost-sharing agreement for a replacement, although council will need to vote on paying the upfront cost of $7.2 million during the spring supplemental capital budget adjustment in June.
The plan would see West Edmonton Mall and AHS contribute no more than $2 million each through a 30-year local improvement tax. The city would cover the remaining $3.2 million.
The mall and AHS benefit from the replacement, administration said, with nearby health-care properties including the Misericordia Hospital and several supportive living facilities. The report notes residents of the CapitalCare Laurier House have actively campaigned for a new footbridge.
Andrew Knack, the area's city councillor, said seniors from these facilities were some of the first people to contact him following the bridge's removal. Some have accessibility issues and require mobility aids with the mall a lifeline to services needed on a regular basis.
Knack hopes to see the bridge installed ahead of Valley Line West construction in 2022, which snakes along 87th Avenue and is expected to create disruptions.
"Having a safe and unimpeded access into that mall I think is really critical," Knack said. The process itself should be fairly quick as much of the bridge can be pre-fabricated off-site, he said.
The councillor is also supportive of the local improvement funding model as it will connect two major properties together.
"This is a really good way to move forward with this for a project that is really critical for many people who not just use the services at West Edmonton Mall … but also for a lot of the staff."
When the bridge was demolished by the mall three years ago, the development permit from the city included the condition that they replace it. The two parties later agreed to replace the provision with a cost-sharing plan, which was approved by the subdivision and development appeal board in June 2019.
Preliminary design has already been completed by administration with the project's total cost coming to about $8 million.
If approved, the bridge would be located slightly further south and closer to 87th Avenue than its previous iteration.