The city has announced the five finalists for the redevelopment of the City Centre Airport.

I support the redevelopment of the land, but I am rethinking what should go there.

It would be nice to create a model of urban sustainability. But I’m wondering if the lands could be redeveloped in such a way as to benefit all Edmontonians directly. After all, this is our land and to date no one has really asked us what we want to see there.

Given the 140 question brouhaha about a downtown arena, one might think there would be much more public discussion. Perhaps that is to come, but at the moment it appears we are going to be given a choice between different approaches to the same thing.

Rather than using the 43 acres of City Centre Airport land for housing and commercial space, perhaps we should look at different kind of uses for it.

One that comes to mind is the creation of an urban forest replete with an artificial lake.

One of the things that Edmonton lacks is a beach. We could certainly build one. An urban forest with a lake at its centre would certainly add something to this city and would serve the recreational needs of Edmontonians for generations to come.

Saying we don’t need an urban forest because we have the river valley is to ignore reality. We are not going to go swimming in the North Saskatchewan River. And those who treat the river valley as a religious icon have made sure you cannot get a coffee or a sandwich anywhere near the river.

Trees and water are what turn a city from livable into enjoyable. Take a look at how many children there are in the pool in front of city hall or the legislature on a hot day and tell me frolicking in the water isn’t a big deal to many of us.

Imagine thousands of Edmontonians of all economic levels being able to take their children to the beach for a swim outside in something other than a crowded concrete rectangle.

Constructed the right way, the park would also allow for any number of types of summer and winter recreation.

There will be a civic election in October and I think we should be asking those who want our vote what other options for the City Centre Airport lands they’re willing to consider.