City to spend $2M on Yorath House renovations

The City of Edmonton is slated to spend $2 million on renovations and upgrades to a historic site in the River Valley.

The Yorath House is a single-family house in the River Valley Capitol Hill neighbourhood in the city’s southwest. It sits in Buena Vista Park, was built in 1949 and sold to the city in 1992. It is on the city’s inventory of historic resources.

Corey Toews, a planner with the city’s Facility and Landscape Infrastructure branch, said the Yorath House is in “quite remarkable condition” given the structure’s age. No one has lived in it since 1992.

A photo of the Yorath House circa 1951.

Courtesy/City of Edmonton

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    “Structurally the house is pretty solid. It’s well-positioned with moving forward with redevelopment,” Toews said.

    Toews said the upgrades are needed to repurpose the house as a park amenity building.

    “Our goal is to make the space as flexible and dynamic as possible,” he said.

    The city is looking to transform the house into meeting and multi-functional spaces. Toews said that will allow the city to run adult art and yoga classes as well as family nature, Nordic walking and orienteering and navigation programs.

    He said the city wants a “space that community can embrace – retreats, weddings, you name it. We’re hoping the space really appeals to the broadest range of users.”

    The renovations come after citizen engagement and have been included in the Buena Vista Master Plan, which was approved by city council in 2014.

    Toews said upgrades must be made to the house’s accessibility standards and the city is looking at installing an elevator. Work must also be done to the structure’s fire and building codes.

    Some interior walls will have to come down, Toews said, to accommodate plans for programming. However, he said the city is trying to respect the original configuration of the house.

    The $2-million budget includes the redevelopment of the house as well as the grounds adjacent to the Yorath House.

    When asked about the price tag surrounding the project, Toews said the city feels historic resources such as the Yorath House are “important and worthy of retention.”

    The project is currently going through the bid and procurement process.

    Construction is expected to start later this year and is scheduled to be completed by the spring of 2018. It will open to the public shortly afterward.