A river valley for everyone
Yesterday, an article detailing two of the River Valley Alliance’s cornerstone projects -- mechanized access and the Touch the Water Promenade -- was published in the Edmonton Journal. I, along with Councillor Ben Henderson, sit on the board of the River Valley Alliance representing Edmonton city council. At our Executive Committee meeting on July 8th these two projects will be discussed. But firstly more should be known about the River Valley Alliance and its amazing plan to create greater connections to arguably our greatest asset in the region.
As I am sure you are well aware, the North Saskatchewan River Valley has become the defining symbol for the Edmonton region. Many of us walk, run, or bike along the banks. Some of us even paddle up and down its waters, or take our dogs for a much needed swim to cool down during the hot summer months. Whatever the season, and whatever the activity, we experience what the North Saskatchewan River Valley has to offer us on a year round basis.
Though we have been aware of this priceless resource for generations, it wasn’t until 18 years ago that a small group of volunteers began the process of connecting over 88 kilometres of unbridled beauty into one of North America’s largest stretches of urban parkland. By 2003, this small group of volunteers were incorporated into the River Valley Alliance (RVA), which is a collaborative organization between the Town of Devon, Parkland County, Leduc County, the City of Edmonton, Strathcona County, the City of Fort Saskatchewan and Sturgeon County. The RVA has the common goal to protect, preserve and enhance the Capital Region’s river valley. Our vision is to create a continuous integrated river valley park system in the Alberta Capital Region.
This vision takes us far beyond the river valley as we see it today. It stretches our imagination and allows us to envision what this unique treasure could become; over the past 10 years, considerable work has been done by the seven municipalities to plan for the future of the river valley.
Since 2007, the RVA has allocated over $5 million to help complete close to 10 projects, with the one of the largest being the Fort Edmonton Footbridge.
In November, 2012, the River Valley Alliance (RVA) began a $90 million capital project that will improve public access to the North Saskatchewan River and river valley; the River Valley Alliance has been hard at work implementing this vision to create North America’s leading metropolitan park.
The 18 initiatives within the capital project will add a total 74 km of new recreation trails, six docks or boat launches, a new pedestrian footbridge in Edmonton, and a mechanized access amenity from downtown Edmonton to the Touch the Water Promenade. It also includes upgrades to Rafters Landing in Edmonton and Prospectors Point in Parkland County.
With successful completion of this Capital Plan, as well as the mechanized access and Touch the Water projects, which are slated for completion in late 2016, we are well on our way to realizing the full natural, social and economic potential of the North Saskatchewan River Valley.
In fact, after full implementation of the plan, it is estimated that the RVA Plan of Action will generate $179 million per year in natural, social and economic regional benefits, and we are well on our way to realizing this potential, which nearly doubles the current $90 million annual regional economic impact from enhanced quality of life.
Stay tuned for an update regarding mechanized access and the Touch the Water Promenade on July 8th.
For more information about the River Valley Alliance, please visit their website at www.rivervalley.ab.ca