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Feds invest $3.7M for Edmonton attractions including Muttart, Fort Edmonton Park

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The federal government is giving a funding boost to help several Edmonton attractions for residents and visitors expand and improve.

Randy Boissonnault, federal minister of tourism, announced Tuesday more than $3.7 million from PrairesCan for the City of Edmonton to invest in Fort Edmonton Park, the Muttart Conservatory, Edmonton Valley Zoo and Churchill Square.

The federal funding will go towards four projects at the heart of Edmonton’s tourism sector.

Click to play video: 'Muttart Conservatory to reopen following lengthy construction closure'
Muttart Conservatory to reopen following lengthy construction closure

Muttart Conservatory

The Muttart Conservatory is receiving $1 million to add new exhibits, install an interactive display and upgrade technology and kitchen facilities.

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“We’ve already seen some of the benefits of this funding by bringing a one-of-a kind exhibit to our feature pyramid in the months of January and February,” said Rhonda Norman, director of the Muttart.

“The Gaia exhibit featured NASA imagery of the Earth’s surface, to see our planet at this scale, floating in three dimensions.

“We saw the highest attendance in history for the Muttart Conservatory for the months of January and February, with more than 31,000 visitors coming to visit the Muttart.”

Norman said the facility’s March feature show — about pollinators, using Edmonton artists’ work — continues to break attendance records.

“Thanks to this generous grant, we will have the best outdoor patio in Edmonton starting this spring,” she said. “And we have the best winter patio.”

The Muttart will use the money to improve its centre court display, add new interactive pieces and host its exciting LEGO exhibit this summer.

Fort Edmonton Park

Fort Edmonton Park is receiving $1.2 million to develop and deliver immersive year-round experiences — including winter programming, multi-media light displays and exhibits focused on sharing Indigenous stories and cultures.

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“Fort Edmonton Park is Canada’s largest open-air museum,” said Darren Dalgleish, president & CEO of the Fort Edmonton Management Company. “Without this kind of support, honestly, I don’t think we’d be able to accomplish half the things we do accomplish. We have big plans.

“After a very long closure and expanded operations, we successfully reintroduced Fort Edmonton as a world-class tourism offering with the remarkable Indigenous Peoples experience, which is internationally award-winning.”

Click to play video: 'Indigenous Peoples Experience at the heart of Fort Edmonton Park reopening'
Indigenous Peoples Experience at the heart of Fort Edmonton Park reopening

The Edmonton Valley Zoo

The zoo is receiving $1 million to implement tourism and visitor enhancements, including new amenities, technology aids and visitor experiences.

“Edmonton Valley Zoo is one of this city’s busiest attractions, not just for Edmontonians, but Albertans and tourists to the province,” said Tammy Wiebe, executive director of the Valley Zoo Development Society.

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She mused that it might be because of its location in the river valley, its educational experiences or its affordable admissions price.

But, it’s also “the opportunity to spend quality time with your friends and family and animals,” Wiebe said.

The City of Edmonton

The city is receiving $500,000 to host programming and install interactive art and vibrant decorative lighting in the Churchill Square, City Hall and Arts District areas to draw visitors to downtown Edmonton.

“As we work towards achieving the Edmonton region’s post-pandemic economic development goals, it is essential that we continue to champion our local tourism industry, which promotes vibrancy and sparks joy here in our city,” Mayor Amarjeet Sohi said.

The Tourism Relief Fund (TRF) helps organizations in the tourism sector adapt to meet public health requirements, expand services and prepare to welcome international visitors. PrairiesCan administers the fund in the prairie provinces.

TRF has a budget of $500 million over two years, including $50 million specifically dedicated to Indigenous tourism initiatives and $15 million for national initiatives.

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“Our government is further positioning attractions and events in communities across the prairies as destinations that draw more visitors, generate economic activity and create good jobs workers can count on,” said Dan Vandal, federal minister for PrairiesCan.

“Edmonton is a key part of Alberta’s tourism sector, and today’s investments will enable local attractions to provide accessible, unique and memorable experiences to people of all ages and abilities.”

The grants are expected to help support more than 55 jobs in the city, the federal government said.

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