Parks Canada announces funding towards National Urban Parks Network and names Edmonton region as a potential site
August 5, 2021
Amiskwacîwâskahikan/Edmonton, AB, Treaty 6 and Métis Region 4 – CPAWS Northern Alberta welcomes the announcement from the Minister of Environment and Climate Change launching a new program to create and support a network of National Urban Parks. Up to $130.9 million will be provided to support Canada’s Urban Parks Program.
On August 4, 2021, Parks Canada signed an agreement of collaboration with the Meewasin Valley Authority (Saskatchewan), to explore the possibility of a national urban park in the Meewasin Valley. Parks Canada has also signed agreements with Winnipeg, Windsor and Halifax, and will be working with additional municipalities, including the Edmonton region, to identify potential urban park sites in those areas.
The North Saskatchewan River Valley in the Edmonton region is popular among locals and tourists, it is the largest urban park network in Canada with over 160 kilometres of trails and over 20 city parks. If accomplished, the inclusion of Edmonton’s urban park space in the National Urban Parks network would mean additional funding and protection for these natural spaces. CPAWS Northern Alberta has been collaborating with the North Saskatchewan River Valley Conservation Society and Sierra Club Canada Foundation advocating for inclusion of the river valley in the Edmonton region as a potential candidate area. “We look forward to working with an expanding network of communities interested in seeking further protections for this important ecological corridor.” says Kecia Kerr, Executive Director of CPAWS Northern Alberta.
In the Government of Canada’s statement, Don Iveson, Edmonton’s mayor, highlights the importance of urban parks for Edmontonians, “City parks have provided a much needed respite to Edmontonians in the last 18 months. […] As home to North America’s largest urban parkland, we are excited by this opportunity to work with the Canadian government.”
Urban parks will contribute to Canada’s land and water protection targets (25 percent of land and inland waters and 25 percent of marine and coastal areas by 2025, and 30 percent by 2030). Research has shown that urban parks provide protections against adverse effects of climate change and important opportunities for people to connect with and appreciate nature. A National Urban Parks Network would have a significant impact on Canada’s population as 72 percent of the population lives in urban centers.
“CPAWS Northern Alberta is excited to collaborate with the North Saskatchewan River Valley Conservation Society and Sierra Club Canada Foundation to enhance the protection of natural habitats, recognize and support Indigenous cultural and traditional uses, and encourage low impact nature-based recreation opportunities along the North Saskatchewan River Valley” says Steve Donelon, Board Chair for CPAWS Northern Alberta.