Don’t Miss the Groundbreaking of Alex Decoteau Park on June 10

Babies belong downtown, too.

The core of our city may be going through a concrete and steel growth spurt with the new arena, condos, and school campus additions — but a beautiful green space is about to take shape. A huge gravel parking lot in Downtown Edmonton will transform into the new Alex Decoteau Park. As the sign says, “goodbye gravel, hello green.”

You don’t want to miss the groundbreaking event on Friday, June 10. Come to the site of the future Alex Decoteau Park, at 10200 – 105 Street at 12:45 pm, to show your support and excitement. Parents, bring your babies, toddlers, and kids. Bring your neighbours. Bring your dogs, too! Furry family members are welcome, as they will be getting their own off-leash area. Join the Mayor, the Edmonton Police Service, the family of Alex Decoteau, and the Downtown Edmonton Community League (DECL) on this very exciting day. It marks the long-awaited transformation of downtown into a beautiful community for everyone to enjoy. Save the date — RSVP to the groundbreaking ceremony event on Facebook.

Ian O’Donnell, Vice President of the DECL, filled me in on the park design elements and inception.

The 5 main elements the park will have, are:

  1. A central “spine” with fountains;
  2. Seating and lush green space;
  3. An off-leash dog area;
  4. A community garden, and;
  5. A lovely grassy area for babies and kids to play, and people to chill.

The park will celebrate it’s grand opening in the spring of 2017.

Aerial view of the new Alex Decoteau Park. Photo courtesy of the City of Edmonton.
Aerial view of the new Alex Decoteau Park. Photo courtesy of the City of Edmonton.

A park was first conceptualized in this area in 2007, when the city purchased the lot for a future green space, but it wasn’t planned or named. At that time, the DECL quickly took action, as the park was their top priority for the downtown community. They held open houses and surveyed businesses and residents, working tirelessly over almost seven years (crazy, hey) to figure out what the park should look like, and attain funds to make it a reality.

After the arena deal was approved, the CRL (community revitalization levy) was able to fund $4.1 million dollars (supported by City Council). The DECL worked alongside a City Landscape Architect, in partnership with other city departments, and moved this “catalyst project” forward, something essential for Downtown Edmonton’s continued development.

Why is this park so significant?

Ian O’Donnell said it best:

“[The City of Edmonton] recognized the need, value and importance of reinvesting in a downtown core that saw much less than its fair share over the years. We are making up for those lost years, and in doing so, creating a much more welcoming, friendly, safe and beautiful downtown for the entire region to come and enjoy.”

Alex Decoteau will make downtown more natural, sustainable and alive. It will bring life back into the core, as the Capital City Downtown Plan (CCDP) has been working towards. Read more about the CCDP here. This new pocket park will be a huge achievement for inner-city Edmonton.

Who was Alex Decoteau?

In 2014, the City of Edmonton Naming Committee decided on Alex Decoteau, in honour of an athlete, soldier, and Canada’s first Aboriginal police officer of Cree heritage. He was born in 1887, and lived an incredible life, including Olympic gold-medal long-distance running and military service in World War One. He was killed in France, in the infamous Battle of Passchendaele (1917). Read more from the Edmonton archives.

Why are the Joneses excited for the new park?

My little man Alex is going to have his very own green space only two blocks away from our loft!

Four years ago, I never imagined that my husband and I would be raising our baby downtown. Many of our friends have relocated to the suburbs, built or bought houses, and left the noise and busy-ness before they started families. I can see why they love the suburban lifestyle, too. With backyards, parks, and more than 1-2 bedrooms out in the suburbs, who wouldn’t want to have a house? Space is huge deal breaker. However, the new park might just keep us downtown longer than we originally had planned. It’s the backyard of our dreams.

What other new moms, living in or around downtown, have to say:

From Marwa, mom to Zidan (1 year):

“Green spaces. My toddler’s heaven. The only way he can let out his untameable energy while grounding himself in nature’s beauty.”

From Elisabeth, mom to Henri (3 years) and Annette (18 months):

“My kids love to explore what is hiding in bushes and around trees. Henri is developing a love to climb trees and both are intrigued by anything that crawls (ants are a big thing right now). Being able to have them experience these things where they live should be an integral part of every kids childhood.”

From Julie, mom to Elizabeth (1 year):

“My daughter loves the birds these green spaces attract. It’s great to have nice, shady patch of grass to sit on and take in the city.”

From Yvonne, mom to Rose (4 years) and Hazel (1 year):

“Why am I excited about Alex Decoteau park? I like to have a destination when I go out, especially with the girls. The river valley is beautiful, but to walk down the hill can be awkward, and the distance is a greater time commitment. And let’s face it, it’s not enjoyable to stroll down Jasper Ave. I am happy for another green space downtown as another place to gather, with friends and strangers. To build community downtown, we need more reasons for people to be out in the streets, and this park will be one of those reasons.”

From Amber, mom to Ruby (21 months) and Baby Juno (newborn):

“We love urban living and having a park will give us a beautiful place to play and meet new families. We love Edmonton and the efforts to make things greener and more family friendly.”

From Marina, mom to Graysen (11 months):

“As a mom to an almost one-year-old and two dogs, living in the core, I personally can’t wait to see and use the new Alex Decoteau park. One of the things I love most about Edmonton, and that I think sets us apart from most other metropolises, is all our urban green space. We are very lucky to be able to set outside our high rises and be steps away from some type of green space. Many cities aren’t so fortunate.”

From Jessie, mom to Elliot (6 months):

“I’m excited for the new park. Just imagine — a coffee in hand, birds chirping, a nice backyard downtown to meet and visit with friends. Babies playing. Awesome.”

From Nadja, mom to Leila (1 year):

“Green space and outdoor play are so important to children. Children need to explore, learn and be with nature! Accessibility to green space and parks also encourages and fosters an active lifestyle.”

The groundbreaking is going to be a celebration of a greener downtown core. See you all on June 10!