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Proposal could see funicular built in Edmonton’s River Valley

WATCH ABOVE: It’s seen as a way to increase access to the River Valley, but it comes with a cost. Vinesh Pratap has details on an outdoor elevator, known as a funicular.

EDMONTON — With thousands of visitors on any given day, a proposal is underway to increase access to the River Valley with a funicular.

“It’ll open up the River Valley for some people and I think that’s really an interesting answer and a democratic idea to look after those folk,” said Ward 6 City Councillor Scott McKeen.

The city has been looking at the idea of a funicular for years. There are two alignments being considered, an east and west, for the 55-metre funicular.

The proposal calls for a wider adjacent staircase with seating areas, a bridge structure over the road for unrestricted access to the trail system and a viewing area. The total cost of the project sits at $24 million, with the City of Edmonton directly contributing $500,000.

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“The rest of the money is all partner dollars, and that’s comprised of the River Valley Alliance, which has a third of the money. A third of the money is coming from the federal government through the Building Canada Fund, and then the balance of that is actually coming from the province of Alberta,” said Rob Marchak, director of urban planning with the City of Edmonton.

There was a River Valley funicular in the early 1900s, which was used to move vehicles and animals. What’s being proposed now would be similar to what’s at the Shaw Conference Centre. People would operate it like an elevator, pushing a button to go up or down. It would be designed to operate year round.

“If we were to actually say no to the project, those funds would be returned to the funding partners and would not be available for other projects,” said Marchak.

“It could absolutely go elsewhere to other municipalities; there’s nothing to say it would come here.”

The project still needs approval by City Council to move forward. For more information on the project, or to weigh in on the city’s online survey, visit the City of Edmonton’s website.

If all goes to plan, the city hopes to begin construction next year.

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A proposal is on the table to build a funicular in Edmonton's River Valley. Courtesy, City of Edmonton
A proposal is on the table to build a funicular in Edmonton's River Valley. Courtesy, City of Edmonton
A proposal is on the table to build a funicular in Edmonton's River Valley. Courtesy, City of Edmonton
A proposal is on the table to build a funicular in Edmonton's River Valley. Courtesy, City of Edmonton
A proposal is on the table to build a funicular in Edmonton's River Valley. Courtesy, City of Edmonton
A proposal is on the table to build a funicular in Edmonton's River Valley. Courtesy, City of Edmonton
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A proposal is on the table to build a funicular in Edmonton's River Valley. Courtesy, City of Edmonton
A proposal is on the table to build a funicular in Edmonton's River Valley. Courtesy, City of Edmonton
A proposal is on the table to build a funicular in Edmonton's River Valley. Courtesy, City of Edmonton

With files from Vinesh Pratap, Global News.