National Parks

National Urban Park

The North Saskatchewan River Valley and Ravine systems contributes to significant ecological connectivity in the greater Edmonton area and will be key to protecting biodiversity in the region, and contributing to climate mitigation and adaptation initiatives. The North Saskatchewan River Valley in the Edmonton region has the unique opportunity to join a National Urban Park Network. 

River surrounded by Trees

What is a National Urban Park?

Urban protected areas are protected areas situated in or at the edge of larger population centres, and managed by federal, provincial, or local governments, in some cases in collaboration with local environmental or community organizations.

National Urban Parks would meet the International Union on the Conservation of Nature’s definition of a protected area and can be in any of its six Management Categories: A clearly defined geographical space, recognized, dedicated and managed, through legal or other effective means, to achieve the long-term conservation of nature with associated ecosystem services and cultural values. 


In order to be effective, National Urban Park planning should be done at the regional scale and partner closely with other regional interests including Indigenous communities, municipalities, federal and provincial governments, non-profit organizations, private land holders and industry. The key principles and values of establishing a National Urban Park must be centered on conserving nature while providing benefits to people in a way that fosters reconciliation and respects the leadership and sovereignty of Indigenous nations.

Urban Park

Connection to Community, Nature, and History

Urban protected areas are an opportunity to advance reconciliation with Indigenous Peoples and support Indigenous-led conservation. Urban protected areas can also improve access to nature for communities historically under-represented in outdoor spaces, provide ample benefits to our health, mental and physical wellbeing, offer people a sense of place, and help bring families together while also defining a city’s identity.
Person Snow Shoeing on Trail

Easing Access to Nature

As more Canadians choose to reside in urban settings, this important shift must be considered in conservation planning to ensure there are maximum benefits to both nature and people. The creation of a National Urban Park (NUP) network not only serves as a welcome step towards addressing the lack of access to nature and its associated benefits in urban settings, but also can provide a plethora of other benefits to nature, climate, and people. These benefits would include biodiversity conservation, opportunities to utilize green infrastructure to help mitigate the effects of climate change, as well as helping species adapt to climate change by improving landscape connectivity.
Reversing Biodiversity Loss

Protecting Urban Biodiversity

Ensuring urban protected areas are well-designed and well-managed will be critical for delivering on the federal government’s commitment to halt and reverse biodiversity loss by 2030 and contribute to delivering on their promise to protect 30% of the country by 2030, particularly in southern Canada.

Maintaining and restoring ecological connectivity in urban and near-urban environments will also be essential to ensure urban protected areas live up to their potential to address biodiversity loss and contribute to climate change adaptation.  


stay updated

Support a National Urban Park in the Region

As the planning and feedback stages progress, there will be plenty of opportunity to get involved in how you want a National Urban Park to look like in the region. Subscribe to our newsletter, to stay updated and involved! 

The Case For 

A National Urban Park in Edmonton

The City of Edmonton, Treaty 6 First Nation, and Metis Nation of Alberta are exploring a new park opportunity with Parks Canada in the Edmonton region. The North Saskatchewan River Valley in the region is a treasured place for many. The area provides easy access to natural spaces from an urban center and places for community to gather. The working group for the project is looking for potential sites that will: 

Foster Reconciliation

Advance reconciliation by working in collaboration with Indigenous partners

Support Conservation

Support conservation in urban areas, including biodiversity protection and climate change mitigation and adaptation

Increase Access to Nature

Increase access and provide opportunities to learn about local nature and culture in urban spaces; and

2021 Federal Commitment

In 2021 Federal Environment Minister Jonathan Wilkinson announced $130 million to work with partners to create a network of National Urban Parks across Canada. Greater Edmonton Region identified as a potential location along with 6 other municipalities across Canada.  This provides opportunity to access federal funding to establish and manage a park system in the North Saskatchewan River Valley and ravine system. Creation of a national urban park could also provide a structure for a partnership with local municipalities, Indigenous communities and community organizations to work together to manage the park based on a shared vision for the river valley.

Beautiful Image of Nature with Trees and Sun Shining
What You Need To Know

The Benefits of a National Urban Park

Connecting People with Nature

  • Support nature based outdoor recreation
  • Support education and research opportunities

Recognize Heritage and Culture

  • Contribute to regional tourism and economic goals
  • Supporting Indigenous leadership and reconciliation.

Nature Conservation

  • Contribution to Canadian conservation Targets (30% by 2030)
  • Landscape connectivity
  • Increased protection for migratory birds – The Edmonton region is an international flyway for birds
  • Climate change adaptation and mitigation
Nature in the city

Existing National Urban Parks

 The North Saskatchewan River Valley and Ravine System in the greater Edmonton region is an outstanding natural feature often called “the largest urban open space in North America”.

The Edmonton Metropolitan Region offers components for a National Urban Park similar to Rouge National Urban Park, formed in 2011, such as a beautiful river corridor, significant Indigenous and non-Indigenous historical and cultural sites, valuable agricultural lands, a metropolitan region of several interested municipalities, conservation organizations, clubs, recreationists, parks and nature lovers, outdoor sport enthusiasts, farmers, and significant biodiverse characteristics and assets unique in the province.

Similar to the formation of Rouge National Urban Park, First Nations and Métis organizations that have either collaborated in protecting aspects of the River Valley or that express an interest in such a collaboration will be consulted and intrinsic to the realization of the park.

Rouge National Urban Park

Rouge National Urban Park

Canada’s first National Urban Park was Rouge National Urban Park in 2011. It has been highly popular and successful for the Toronto region. Currently Rouge National Urban Park is nearly 80 km² and involves the Regional Municipalities of York and Durham, and three cities namely Toronto, Markham, and Pickering, with the Toronto and Region Conservation Authority (a land trust), and the governments of Ontario and Canada. It also includes private farmland and the Bead Hill National Historic Site. It functions under its own legislation as a green landscape popular for health, recreation, conservation, tourism, and agriculture. It is open to users without charge, accessible by transit and vehicles as well as non-motorized means, and features trails, recreation facilities, and visitor amenities, and hosts festivals, events, camping, and programs, also encouraging social inclusion and Indigenous leadership.

Stay updated

Support a National Urban Park in the Region

As the planning and feedback stages progress, there will be plenty of opportunity to get involved in how you want a National Urban Park to look like in the region. Subscribe to our newsletter, to stay updated and involved! 


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