West River's Edge: From gravel pit to 'gem' in Fort Saskatchewan

Never heard of this 194-hectare green space with a dozen kilometres of ski trails, a skating loop, an off-leash dog park and a wetland conservation area? Check it out.

'This is our park we are developing over time and it’s really important to the community'

Fort Saskatchewan Nordic Ski Club members Hannah Stolz and Wendi Crowe get out for a ski at West River's Edge. (Adrienne Lamb/CBC)

Hannah Stolz and Wendi Crowe glide across the snow on their cross-country skis along one of the popular trails at West River's Edge.

"It really is our home; we're here all the time," Crowe says.

The Ski for Life director for the Fort Saskatchewan Nordic Ski Club says she's here at least three times a week. The club's home base is in the basement of the pavilion of the recreational area at 1875 River Valley Dr.

"Before this was here we were down literally in a tiny little shack at the other end of town," Crowe says. 

In the old location it was a challenge to build the sport, but that is not the case anymore, she says.

"We've seen our membership grow just incredibly having this place to come to."

'This is our gem'

4 months ago
Duration 1:55
Get a feel for the green space that is West River's Edge in Fort Saskatchewan, Alta.

You can see more from West River's Edge in Fort Saskatchewan on Our Edmonton Saturday at 10 a.m., Sunday at noon and 11 a.m. Monday CBC TV and CBC Gem.

The 194-hectare green space includes a dozen kilometres of ski trails, an off leash dog park, a wetland conservation area, an interpretive forest and a boat launch onto the North Saskatchewan River. 

The pavilion, complete with a hall for events like weddings, has two outdoor fireplaces and a balcony overlooking a fish pond stocked in the summer with brown, tiger and rainbow trout as well as yellow perch.
A different vantage point of West River's Edge in Fort Saskatchewan which currently features an extensive skating loop. (David Bajer/CBC)

The parks services manager for the City of Fort Saskatchewan says it is a far cry from the area's previous life as a gravel quarry a quarter century ago.

"This is our gem, this is our park we are developing over time and it's really important to the community," says Jenelle Hart. "This past winter when we provided skating on the pond for the first time it was the talk of the town." 
Arthur Lewandowski laces up his skates for a turn on the skating loop. (Rick Bremness/CBC)

"I love to come play hockey and skate around," says Arthur Lewandowski, community events and tourism specialist for the City of Fort Saskatchewan.

"Really take a break mentally," he says. "Not think of anything else that is happening around the world right now; just take a deep breath and have a good time."

Lewandowski says with COVID-19 restrictions beginning to ease, he expects more events will soon be taking place in the space.
An artwork called 'Big Piece of the Puzzle' is dedicated to all the skilled trade workers in Fort Saskatchewan and it's one of the surprise to be found at West River's Edge. (Adrienne Lamb/CBC)


Adrienne Lamb


Adrienne Lamb is the host and producer of Our Edmonton featured weekly on CBC TV. She served for several years as CBC Radio's national arts reporter in Edmonton. Prior to moving to Alberta in 2001, Adrienne worked at CBC in Ontario and New Brunswick. Adrienne is a graduate of Western University with a degree in English and Anthropology and a Masters in Journalism.


To encourage thoughtful and respectful conversations, first and last names will appear with each submission to CBC/Radio-Canada's online communities (except in children and youth-oriented communities). Pseudonyms will no longer be permitted.

By submitting a comment, you accept that CBC has the right to reproduce and publish that comment in whole or in part, in any manner CBC chooses. Please note that CBC does not endorse the opinions expressed in comments. Comments on this story are moderated according to our Submission Guidelines. Comments are welcome while open. We reserve the right to close comments at any time.

Become a CBC Member

Join the conversation  Create account

Already have an account?