On Saturday Edmonton residents were able to take a good look at the design plans for the Terwillegar Park footbridge and provide feedback about the trail route options at the north side. 

Many gathered at the Alfred H. Savage Centre to find out more about the unique footbridge. The structure, boasting what the city calls a “minimalist” design, will link Terwillegar Park to the north bank of the North Saskatchewan River.

City Council approved the footbridge concept last summer and completed the environmental impact assessment for the project on April 15.

The largest footbridge in Canada

Rob Marchak, the city’s director of strategic projects, said the footbridge will have a minimal impact on the environment.

“The footbridge itself is an incredibly elegant design and its design is very light on the landscape,” he said. “It has a very minimal structure to it so we can build it fairly quickly with as little environmental impact as possible.”

Terwillegar footbridge

The city said design plans for the Terwillegar Park footbridge are "light on the landscape" and will have a minimal environmental impact. (CBC News)

Marchak said the footbridge will be the largest in Canada and the second largest of its kind in the world.

Some people, however, are not convinced and are concerned with the environmental effects construction may have on the trail system connected north of the bridge.

Patsy Cotterill represents the Edmonton Nature Club on Saturday and she said the proposed trail route is too close to the river’s edge.

“This would result, we suggest, in a lot of environmental destruction,” she said.

Cotterill added that she also worries about how the paved trails will affect the wildlife in the area.

Some residents concerned about trails

“There’s a lot of wildlife in a flood plain,” she said. “Moose, deer, coyotes and other smaller animals. Great public use in there has to be really carefully directed to cause a minimal disturbance.”

Stephanie Grossman, a wildlife biologist that has been working on the project for more than a year, said environmental impacts of the project are “mostly mitigable.”

“The wildlife and plant communities that we find are very typical of urban and suburban parks,” she said. “Wildlife communities have adapted to some levels of disturbance already. Our assessment indicated the trail will have minimal impacts or low impacts to wildlife.”

The city is asking for public feedback about the trail route options on the north side of the river and the new single track trail on the south side. Residents have until June 8 to submit to complete an online survey about the project.