Edmonton

Edmonton mayor suggests 'seawall kind of experience' along river's north bank

To deal with congestion on the trails along the north bank of the river, Edmonton's mayor is proposing a promenade similar to the Vancouver seawall.

Don Iveson pitches promenade between Walterdale Bridge and Government House Park

Cyclists riding along Vancouver's seawall. (Christer Waara / CBC)

To deal with congestion on the trails along the north bank of the river, Edmonton's mayor is proposing a promenade similar to the Vancouver seawall.

"I want to really flag that right now as something that I'd like to see us explore going further west, from Walterdale Bridge potentially all the way up to Government House Park," Don Iveson said Wednesday during an urban planning meeting at City Hall.

"I actually think there's a phenomenal opportunity to do a promenade, a seawall kind of experience."

At the meeting, the River Valley Alliance presented its 2017-2022 capital program, which focuses on connecting the trails of its seven member municipalities.

"I understand the value of that, the priority of that," Iveson said. "But I would not want that to come at the expense of other opportunities to make upgrades, particularly in the heart of the city.

"I thought I better make the pitch today, because I wouldn't want that to wait a couple of capital cycles. Because if it's worth exploring ... I'd want to be in a position to move ahead with something pretty ambitious."

'It's not at all incompatible with broader interests'

RVA executive director Larry Wall said one reason to meet with municipal councils is to hear their ideas, since the RVA works with them to prioritize projects.  

"Mayor Iveson's add was very astute," Wall said. "That is a very highly used area. It is river valley. It is about access, so it's not at all incompatible with the broader interests.

"What it now does is gives us the opportunity to work with the City of Edmonton and other partners to see where that fits."

Iveson said he's often on River Valley Road and notices considerable "conflict between commuters, recreational cyclists, runners and walkers and pet owners on that three-and-a-half, four metres of asphalt."

While Edmonton doesn't have a sea, the mayor said the analogy is fitting. He said the Vancouver seawall has dedicated spaces for people engaged in various activities, as well as small parks and areas that open up to the water. He said over the long term, there could be washrooms and potentially a seasonal cafe.

While the project would no doubt carry a hefty price tag, Wall said it wouldn't have to be built all at once, that elements could be added over time.

The RVA's final capital program will largely depend on municipalities paying their share of funding for their proposals, Wall said.

Iveson said working with the RVA would be ideal. But that if that doesn't work out, he still thinks the idea is something "worth looking at as a civic priority."

roberta.bell@cbc.ca

@roberta__bell

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