Though a lot of work is still to be done, the process of the City of Edmonton getting a national urban park is underway.
On Monday, the pre-feasibility phase of getting the park to fruition was launched by tourism minister, Randy Boissonnault on behalf of Steven Guilbeault, Alberta’s minister of environment and climate change and minister responsible for Parks Canada.
The city along with Parks Canada will work closely with Indigenous partners to ensure that a national urban park in the Edmonton region showcases Indigenous stewardship, voices and stories and offers opportunities for connections to the land and water, based on Indigenous knowledge and values, according to a news release.
At this time it’s still unclear as to where the urban park will be located or what will be designated as part of the park — it could be the entire river valley or sections of the stream.
“Indigenous peoples have a deep connection to the land so I am grateful for this development,” said Chief Tony Alexis of the Alexis Nakota Sioux Nation.
“Having a national urban park in Treaty 6 Territory would not only provide space for connecting to the land, but would also provide opportunities for healing and cultural celebration for both Indigenous and non-Indigenous people.
“This is a step in the right direction towards Reconciliation.”
Other officials present for the announcement included Edmonton’s Mayor Amarjeet Sohi, Chief Tony Alexis of the Alexis Nakota Sioux Nation and Confederacy of Treaty Six First Nations representative and Audrey Poitras, President of the Métis Nation of Alberta.
If the park gets the green light, it would mean better access to green spaces for Edmontonians. The news release states the park would also create jobs, strengthen the local economy and complement the City of Edmonton’s tourism industry.
“Edmontonians are united by our love of nature and getting outside,” Mayor Sohi said adding that being close to natural spaces increases overall wellbeing and connection.
“We are so lucky to have an incredible amount of green space across our city including the largest continuous area of urban parkland in the country. I am looking forward to partnering with Parks Canada, the Confederacy of Treaty Six First Nations, and the Métis Nation of Alberta to continue our long-standing stewardship of this land for all to enjoy.”
A win for nature
The National Urban Parks Program — announced back in August 2021 — has a goal to protect biodiversity and conserve 25 per cent of land and inland waters along with 25 per cent of marine and coastal areas by 2025, working toward 30 per cent by 2030.
As nature and urban green spaces provide a habitat for animals, including species at risk and can serve as crucial corridors for wildlife, the urban park would help with keeping those necessities for wildlife intact.
The potential park would also benefits Canada’s commitment to its climate change objectives by sequestering carbon.
In addition to the city of Edmonton, Parks Canada has signed statements of collaboration with the Meewasin Valley Authority and the municipalities of Winnipeg, Man., Halifax, N.S. and Windsor, Ont. The organization is also working with others to identify potential urban park sites at various locations including Colwood, B.C. and Montreal, Que.