City council will discuss Tuesday sending a letter to the province with a request to designate and develop a portion of the North Saskatchewan River valley as an urban provincial park. Mayor Don Iveson has been exploring the idea since early 2016, when a meeting with the North Saskatchewan River Valley Conservation Society presented the southwest Big Island-Woodbend area as a prime candidate for a new protected recreational zone.
The land in question covers over 400 hectares of space between Anthony Henday Drive to the town of Devon. The North Saskatchewan River Valley Conservation Society has been attempting to purchase the land — which is mostly privately owned — and estimated it could cost approximately $25 million.
Preliminary discussions have identified several potential partners, including the two levels of government, Parkland and Leduc counties, the Town of Devon, the River Valley Alliance, the Edmonton and Area Land Trust, and the Enoch Cree Nation, whose traditional lands overlap with the site of the proposed park. Enoch Cree Nation coveted about 100 square kilometres of land in the area until 1902 and 1908, when about half of the land was forcibly surrendered, in part due to efforts driven by former Edmonton politician Frank Oliver. Anti-hate advocacy groups have recently protested the widespread public commemoration of the historical figure, whose policies had sewn prejudice against visible minorities.
A report destined for council on Tuesday states that the urban provincial park would help realize a shared regional vision outlined in the River Valley Alliance's 2007 Capital Region Parkway Master Plan. Going through the province, the report says, would speed up implementation of that vision, given the province's broader powers and resources.
The Mayor has continued to gauge interest throughout the summer of 2017 by meeting with the identified stakeholders, who generally indicated interest in advancing the discussion, with the development of formal positions to follow council direction.
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