The Edmonton River Valley being evaluated as a potential National Urban Park site


(Left to right) Mayor Amarjeet Sohi, MPP Randy Boissonnault, President Audrey Poitras, Chief Tony Alexis, Elder Ron Arcand and Elder Norma Spicer gathered at City Hall on Monday for the announcement. (Image credit/Elliott Knopp)

Parks Canada and several organizations are studying how the North Saskatchewan River Valley could become Alberta’s next natural attraction.

Edmonton’s North Saskatchewan River Valley may soon become the site of a new urban national park.

At City Hall on Monday, Tourism Minister Randy Boissonnault, joined by Edmonton Mayor Amarjeet Sohi, Sioux Nation Chief Alexis Nakota Tony Alexis and Métis Nation of Alberta President Audrey Poitras, announced that the federal government was launching a pre-feasibility phase that could lead to further development of the region and other parts of the country.

Boissonnault said many residents have developed a connection with natural spaces throughout periods of heightened public health measures, and making spaces accessible to more residents and visitors would benefit mental health, well-being. general and other aspects of life.

“We are ready to accommodate the visitor economy and share a space that is 22 times the size of New York’s Central Park,” he said.

“When you have an asset the size of this, it makes sense to share it with Canadians and the world.”

He further stated Parks Canada’s commitment to promoting and advancing Indigenous interests by providing space for stewardship, showcasing Indigenous voices, and providing opportunities for connection to lands and waters by based on their knowledge and values.

The project will be reviewed through extensive consultation with Indigenous leaders and local partners. Funding for the potential development will be offered by the federal government, as a $2.3 billion investment in environmental conservation was announced in the last federal budget.

Chief Alexis stressed the importance of being included in the early stages of discussions, saying this type of working relationship is not a dynamic that has happened frequently in the past.

“The collaboration between Indigenous peoples and Parks Canada is historic, as Indigenous peoples have been excluded from decision-making processes,” he said.

“Parks Canada and governing bodies realize the importance the land has always had to Indigenous peoples. They came to us as land value experts to help create the National Urban Park. I believe this project will help to improve relations between indigenous peoples and the parties in power, and also to mitigate the effects of climate change.

He added that an urban park in Treaty 6 territory is a step in the right direction towards reconciliation and could provide opportunities for healing and cultural celebration for all.

President Poitras expressed a similar sentiment, stating that she believes the project will be designed according to Indigenous beliefs and in the spirit of reconciliation.

“We believe in building partnerships that nurture the goals of all parties. Partnerships that create kinship where once there were barriers. We need to open the lines of communication. These are the first steps in a meaningful relationship where trust can be established.

Mayor Amarjeet Sohi said the development could also provide the city with additional funding to improve the city’s infrastructure and increase attraction among local and foreign residents and investment.

“Natural spaces enhance our quality of life, and it’s vital for our city to attract and retain talented and passionate people, enable new investment, and protect world-class events and festivals,” said he commented.

“Edmonton plays an active role in the stewardship and accessibility of green spaces and parks. I’m excited to see what this partnership can do for our enjoyment and hope for the future.

Details regarding the development schedule have not been made public as the project is still in its early stages.

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