Edmonton's funicular will be ready by winter, city says

Edmonton’s funicular will be taking people into and out of the river valley before winter, according to the City of Edmonton.

Mechanized access into river valley will be free of charge

The funicular will be ready before the end of the year, says the city. (City of Edmonton)

Edmonton's funicular will be taking people into and out of the river valley before winter, according to the City of Edmonton.

"We're still on track to be opening up this fall," said Jesse Banford, director of facility infrastructure delivery.

Banford said the city is looking at doing a grand opening some time after the election in October.

"We're attending to the final touches," he said. "We're 90 to 95 per cent complete."

The work is scheduled to be done by the end of December, he said.

Funicular is free

There will be no charge to use the funicular, which passengers can summon by pushing a call button.

The funicular will take people from the top of the river bank, behind the Hotel Macdonald, to the mid-way point which looks out over the valley.

The new lookout over the river valley promises a great view in all directions. (City of Edmonton)

"It's almost like the crow's nest perch in the trees, so when you look over, you're at the top of these pine trees at the edge of the river," said Banford. "It's a beautiful, beautiful spot to stand to look out and see what that jewel of our river valley is in both directions."

From the mid-way point, people who want to get closer to the river can take an elevator down to the bottom near the Low Level Bridge.

Banford said the funicular and elevator will mean anybody will be able to access the river valley, including people in wheelchairs and parents with children in strollers.

"The number of kilometres that we have in the river valley is massive and everybody should be able to enjoy it," he said. 

New stairs part of project

There will still be a set of stairs from the top of the bank to the bottom, with a separate track for runners and a bike rail for cyclists who opt to push their bikes up and down the stairs.

The urban staircase has a separate track for runners. (City of Edmonton)

The cost for the funicular is $24 million, which is part of a greater budget of $72.9 million for other projects in the river valley including boat launches and upgraded trails.

The city's contribution is $1.7 million, with the balance coming from the federal and provincial governments and the River Valley Alliance.


Nola Keeler is an award-winning journalist who has worked with CBC in Whitehorse, Yukon and Edmonton since 2000. She has worked as a host, reporter, news reader and producer for CBC. Send story ideas to nola.keeler@cbc.ca.