High Level Waterfall: where to go from here?

Great, Divide, Waterfall, high, level, bridge

The High Level Bridge Great Divide Waterfall has been an Edmonton icon since the valves were first turned on in 1980, following its private donation by artist Peter Lewis. Even though the waterfall has been out of commission since 2009, many still consider it a marker of the summer festival season.

The waterfall was turned off in 2009 due to environmental concerns of pumping large amounts of chlorinated water into the North Saskatchewan River. Over the years, the infrastructure to the project has deteriorated and it now needs to be upgraded if we are to bring it back to life.

To get this icon back up and going will take quite an investment, one that the Council has so far said they are not willing to support. There are other options, however; private funding, joint financing with the City, or a grassroots funding structure similar to Light the Bridge are all possibilities. Regardless, I need to know how citizens feel. Is it time to leave the waterfall as a nostalgic memory, or is it worth reinvesting and getting it up and going, again?

The cost of the needed upgrades are currently estimated to be between $1.1 and $2.6 million, depending on the chosen option. This is quite a substantial amount of money, yet the Great Divide Waterfall was also a striking icon to our summer skyline. Where’s the balance?

It is an asset that many have told me they would be sad to lose.

To move forward, I need to know how Edmontonians feel. Is it time to walk away from the project and leave it in the history books, or should we look at creative financing options and get this one-of-a-kind public art piece functioning, once again?
For more information, visit http://sirepub.edmonton.ca/sirepub/mtgviewer.aspx?meetid=1202&doctype=MINUTES under item 6.6 to review the reports and find details behind the various options recommended by administration.

Feel free to reach me at 780 496 8146 or ben.henderson@edmonton.ca. You can also follow me on Twitter @ben_hen.

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