The City of Edmonton announced details on Monday, Oct. 22, 2018 about the upcoming construction of the new Keillor Point project in southwest Edmonton, the site commonly referred to as the End of the World, which is a popular spot overlooking the North Saskatchewan River where young people go to hang out and party. Larry Wong / Postmedia
Two decades ago, it was the site of bitter standoffs between Riverbend commuters and parkland protectors.
Construction to start on Keillor Point, aka End of the World
By early 2019, the site of the once-divisive Keillor Road will become Keillor Point, a safe and city-sanctioned lookout high above the North Saskatchewan River valley.
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“We’re really happy that it’s now going to be a spot where families can come, visitors can come, and enjoy the river and the view,” said Roger Laing, chairman of the Belgravia Community League’s Keillor Point committee, on Monday.
Construction started Monday on a new staircase and platform with railings near Saskatchewan Drive and 74 Avenue at the spot that’s been informally called The End of the World. Come spring, the site will also include a sloped granular trail to make the viewing platform more accessible, said Aaron Lewicki, acting director for open space infrastructure delivery with the City of Edmonton.
Keillor Road, which once connected Saskatchewan Drive to Fox Drive, was closed for good in 1996 after a lengthy tussle that resulted in a court battle and, ultimately, a referendum question on the 1995 civic election ballot. In rough shape when it closed, Keillor Road succumbed to riverbank erosion, and cracked and slipped down the slope in 2003.
It left a stunning cliff of concrete piles in its wake that has become a choice gathering spot for the adventurous. A sign reading, “Designated prohibited area no trespassing” has done little to deter people from clambering down the dirt bank, sometimes partying and littering.
Roger Laing, chairman of the Belgravia Community Leagues Keillor Point committee, stands beside a sign on Saskatchewan Drive on Monday, Oct. 22, 2018. Larry Wong / POSTMEDIA NETWORK
“It’s not a safe spot. It’s time to make it safe. The plan that’s in place now will do that, and it’ll be a beautiful community asset,” he said.
By the end of 2018 or by next January — depending on the weather — the public will have access to the new stairwell and lookout point, Lewicki said.
Work on the accessible trail and landscaping will happen in the new year, and should be ready for spring, he said.
When they initially planned the project, the city acknowledged the riverbank is still moving. Workers will monitor any slope movement during the project and afterward to ensure it is safe for the public, Lewicki said.
Laing, also the chair of the Keillor Point committee, said he is comfortable with the name chosen by the City of Edmonton naming committee.
The staircase and platform have been designed to have as little impact on the slope as possible, he said.
Construction on the staircase and viewing area is expected to be completed in late 2018 or early 2019. Depending on weather, details and landscaping will be completed in the spring of 2019, depending on the weather.
Laing is happy the city’s naming committee has officially called the site Keillor Point, paying homage to the doctor who originally bought the land a century ago.
In 1918, Dr. Frederick Keillor, a medical doctor who became an Edmonton city councillor, bought 25 hectares between Saskatchewan Drive, Whitemud Drive and the river. A decade later, he gave a portion of it to the city to build a gravel road down the hill. That road became Keillor Road after his death in 1971.
A popular lookout over the North Saskatchewan River known to Edmontonians as “End of the World” is about to go through some major changes.
The site is located at the top of the riverbank on Saskatchewan Drive in the Belgravia neighbourhood, above the former Keillor Road.
Design work for the project includes construction of a staircase, hand railing, a formalized viewing area and a granular trail. The changes are meant to improve safety and accessibility at the popular picturesque viewpoint.
Members of the Belgravia Community League have been working hard with the city on the project. After years of people using the space to party, the chair of the Keillor Point committee said it’s nice to see construction is underway to create a safer space for everyone.
“It’s time to make it safe and the plan that is in place now will do that, and it’ll be a beautiful community asset,” Roger Laing said.
“In every change, there’s pluses and minuses. Yes, there might be more traffic and more parking but it will be folks coming to enjoy the river valley, which is why it’s here. We’re happy and lucky to be able to live near this river valley, and it’s quite appropriate for us to be sharing it with others.”
READ MORE: Edmonton council gives approval for engineering work to improve End of the World site
The lookout sits above what’s left of Keillor Road, which was closed to traffic in 1994 before crumbling into the river due to erosion.
The area has been off limits for over a decade, but that didn’t stop people from accessing the site anyway.
“I cannot believe no one has fallen off this thing and died,” Mayor Don Iveson said during council debate in July 2017.
Funding for the $1.5-million project was approved this past September. Construction of the staircase and viewing area is expected to be complete in late 2018 or early 2019. Final details and landscaping will be finished next spring, weather dependent, the City of Edmonton said on Monday.
Watch below: A unique location in our city is off limits, but the city is looking at making changes. Vinesh Pratap filed this report when the discussion began in 2015.