United Conservatives Will Create New Provincial Park in Edmonton’s North Saskatchewan River Valley

Big Island Provincial Park to protect natural area, enhance recreation in Capital Region’s Ribbon of Green valley parks system

EDMONTON, AB: A United Conservative government will protect the North Saskatchewan River Valley from industrial development and enhance the recreational potential of one of the greatest urban parks in North America by contributing up to $10 million for the creation of Big Island Provincial Park.

“United Conservatives share the vision of the River Valley Alliance to transform over 100 kilometres of river valley into ‘an extraordinary park that becomes the single, unifying and defining characteristic of the Capital region — just as Stanley Park and Central Park are for Vancouver and New York,’” said UCP Leader Jason Kenney.

“The North Saskatchewan River Valley is a magnificent natural treasure and fabulous recreational asset for the 1.3 million Albertans who live, work and play in the Capital Region,” said United Conservative Party Leader Jason Kenney. “The valley must be conserved as a lasting legacy for future generations. Action is needed now to protect it from industrial and residential development and growth pressures, so that Albertans and visitors to our province can experience the joys of being on the river, exploring the valley trails, and visiting the parks.”

A UCP government would provide up to $10 million over two years to realize the dream of creating a new Big Island Provincial Park within the beautiful Woodbend-Big Island Natural Area, which is comprised of 770 hectares of largely wilderness land along the river in southwest Edmonton between the Henday Freeway and the Town of Devon. A UCP government would work with the City of Edmonton, other Capital Region municipalities, Enoch First Nation and the federal government to permanently conserve the valley.

“This would be the single biggest contribution to achieving the Ribbon of Green parklands vision since Peter Lougheed’s government created the Capital City Recreational Park[1] in the 1970s,” Kenney said. “The camping, beaches, fishing and rich flora and fauna of the Woodbend-Big Island area would be a magnet for Albertans and visitors from across the country and around the world, It would be a boost for tourism, investment and attracting and retaining talented people in Edmonton.”

In addition, a United Conservative government will earmark $300,000 annually for park maintenance and development which is comparable to the operating costs of Calgary’s Fish Creek Provincial Park[2].

North Saskatchewan River Valley

A UCP government would also support the River Valley Alliance vision to connect the 100-kilometre valley trail system from Devon to Fort Saskatchewan and make the trails and the river more accessible for all kinds of outdoor recreation. It would further support the North Saskatchewan River Conservation Society in its efforts to prevent further industrial development in the valley, including the proposed massive solar farm adjacent to Epcor’s E.L. Smith water treatment plant. “River valley parklands should not be bulldozed to create industrial-scale solar power plants,” said Kenney. “There is no environmental argument for sacrificing precious green space for subsidized green power.”

The commitment to create Big Island Provincial Park forms part of the United Conservatives’ Common Sense Conservation Plan, announced earlier this week.

The creation of Big Island Provincial Park would create more spaces for camping within the City of Edmonton, which currently has only one campground[3]. It would also pay homage to the City’s history by recreating an experience that was popular in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, when steamboats owned by the Hudson’s Bay Company and local entrepreneur John Walter ferried people from downtown to Big Island[4] for picnics and dances.

A comprehensive backgrounder with additional details on today’s announcement can be found here.