When people have the chance to make meaningful connections with the river valley, they gain a new appreciation and pride for this unique treasure that runs through our region.
“The River Valley Alliance’s (RVA) objective is trail connectivity and access to the river valley, essentially making it easier for people to enjoy it,” says Brent Collingwood, RVA executive director in talking about the not-for-profit company that’s directed by the Town of Devon, Parkland County, Leduc County, the City of Edmonton, Strathcona County, the City of Fort Saskatchewan, and Sturgeon County.
This year will mark the completion of the RVA’s Phase I Capital Plan, a six-year project of 13 initiatives spanning across the seven municipalities that border the North Saskatchewan River in the Edmonton Metropolitan Region.
EPCOR RiverFest is a new festival that highlights the many ways people can enjoy the river valley — including those made possible through RVA projects.
“This event is something we really believe in. The North Saskatchewan River is where our drinking water comes from and we want to protect it. The more people get the chance to experience our river and love it, the more they will help us protect it,” explains Gillian Adams, senior manager, corporate marketing for EPCOR. “This summer we’d love to have 3,000 people join us on the river raft float.”
Collingwood says floating on the North Saskatchewan is a great way to see RVA projects like the Terwillegar Park Footbridge, which connects trails from Fort Edmonton Park to Terwillegar Park.
“With its minimalist structure and distinctive lighting, when you float under this stressed ribbon bridge you know you’re seeing something very unique,” says Collingwood. “You’re seeing this iconic structure, as well as the city skyline, from an entirely different perspective.”
This year EPCOR RiverFest will take place on August 11 (Edmonton) and August 12 (Devon and Fort Saskatchewan). Registration for the on-the-water experience will open in early June. EPCOR will return as title sponsor, and there are many other sponsorship opportunities available for local businesses.
The ultimate objective of the RVA is to connect one continuous trail from Devon to Fort Saskatchewan, spanning approximately 125 kilometres. “The completion of Phase I is a significant milestone along that journey,” notes Collingwood, who adds “funding requests have already been submitted for Phase II, which would see another 13 projects undertaken across the seven municipalities over the next 5-6 years. This year marks the completion of nine new trail projects, four new water access points, two new pedestrian bridges, and a community centre in Fort Saskatchewan. It marks the completion of three upgraded staging areas in Strathcona County, Parkland County and Sturgeon County. It marks the completion of upgrades to three pedestrian bridges crossing Battery Creek and the opening of the city’s newest tourist attraction – the 100 Street Funicular. That really is something to celebrate, and participating in EPCOR RiverFest is a unique way to come together to do just that.”
More information is available at www.rivervalley.ab.ca.