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- RiverFest 2017
River Valley Alliance is a non-profit, charitable organization established to preserve, protect and enhance Alberta’s Capital Region River Valley, create one of the largest river valley parks in the world, and leave a legacy for generations to come.
There’s a new way to soak up some fun in the Capital Region’s North Saskatchewan River Valley Park system, one of the largest metropolitan park systems in the world. The River Valley Alliance, along with title sponsor EPCOR, will launch the inaugural EPCOR RiverFest in September. The three-day event, from Sept. 15 through 17, involves participation of seven capital region communities.
“This inaugural RiverFest is another exciting addition to our Capital Region’s ‘Festival City’ brand,” says Brent Collingwood, Chair of the River Valley Alliance. “The River Valley Alliance plans a celebration of outdoor recreation and nature along the entire length of the North Saskatchewan River, from Devon and through Parkland and Leduc counties to Edmonton, then through Strathcona and Sturgeon counties past Fort Saskatchewan.”
The event features three signature rendezvous events. One hosted in Voyageur Park in Devon on Friday, Whitemud Park & Whitemud Equine Center in Edmonton on Saturday and West River’s Edge Park in Fort Saskatchewan on Sunday. Each rendezvous will have unique activities which feature boat rides and paddling on the river, food concessions, activities and booth displays from a range of outdoor operators and agencies.
“Speaking on behalf of one of the River Valley Alliance’s seven municipal partners,” says Don Iveson, Mayor of Edmonton, “I am proud of the work we have done together to enhance accessibility to the river valley as a whole. During RiverFest, all of us can share our experiences as well as our commitment to preserve, protect and enhance this precious natural resource for future generations.”
As Edmonton’s water and wastewater service provider with operations along the North Saskatchewan River beginning in 1903, EPCOR is supporting this new initiative. “The River Valley and the river itself are truly Canadian jewels and EPCOR is pleased to play a part in encouraging the Capital Region to get out there and enjoy their beautiful asset,” says Stuart Lee, EPCOR President and CEO.
EPCOR’s wholly-owned subsidiaries build, own and operate electrical transmission and distribution networks, water and wastewater treatment facilities and infrastructure in Canada and the United States. The company’s subsidiaries also provide electricity, natural gas and water products and water services to residential and commercial customers. EPCOR, headquartered in Edmonton, Alberta, is an Alberta Top 70 employer. EPCOR’s website address is www.epcor.com.
A new hand guides the preservation, protection and enhancement of the Capital Region River Valley Park System. On April 19, Christopher Sheard stepped down as Chair of the River Valley Alliance (RVA) and Brent Collingwood assumed the role. The River Valley Alliance is a partnership of seven municipalities and designated as steward of river valley parks development.
“The RVA is at a critical juncture,” says Collingwood, Director of Alumni & Corporate Relations with the University of Alberta’s MBA Programs. “With our current phase of projects winding down, our priorities are land acquisition and financial commitments for the next phase of projects. We have made great progress in the last five years, but that momentum is at risk if capital funding cannot be secured.”
The former Senior Director of Executive Education at the Alberta School of Business and committed Rotarian has been a representative for the City of Edmonton on the RVA’s Advisory Committee since 2011, serving as its Chair since 2014.
“Back in 2010, I saw a video by Don Metz showcasing a vision of Edmonton in 2040,” Collingwood explains. “That video, showing what our river valley could be, was my inspiration for getting involved in the River Valley Alliance. My experience has been both exciting and rewarding in telling so many people the RVA story.
“Having completed my term on the Advisory Committee,” he continues, “I did not want to lose my involvement with the RVA. I have a background in governance, I have sat at the Board table for four years, and I have a keen desire to keep the momentum going: I want to lead the Board through this next exciting but challenging phase.”
Outgoing Chair Christopher Sheard warmly congratulated his successor at the Annual General Meeting.
“Over the last five years,” says Sheard about his time as Chair, “the RVA has changed from an organization that had developed a plan for the river valley to an organization that is implementing that plan. It is nearing completion of an aggressive capital construction program, and is planning for the now foreseeable day when our river valley park will be fully connected from end to end.”
Prior to joining the RVA, Sheard had spent much of his professional life as an executive in the ATCO Group. More recently, he served as Chair for Edmonton Economic Development Corporation and the Citadel Theatre, and then led the creation of the Capital Region Board from 2008-2011. During his term as Chair, the RVA engaged in eighteen initiatives to advance connectivity and access within the river valley, including a pedestrian bridge, Alberta’s first river valley funicular, and over 70 km of multi-use trails.
When asked about his next role, Sheard replies, “I am always watching for challenging opportunities. I’m sure one will find me.”
Collingwood is excited about the challenging opportunity he has found.
“Citizens of our shareholder municipalities are experiencing the new trails that bring them to their river valley,” he says. “Councils are seeing the benefits their tax dollars are bringing to their communities, which reinforces the importance of completing trail connectivity. The profile of the RVA continues to grow as the driving force to create a continuous, world-class metropolitan river valley park system from Devon to Fort Saskatchewan, and leave a legacy for generations to come.”
“This isn’t a cause that exists just around a council table or among elites,” Sheard agrees. “This is a cause that resonates in every person on the street. And that is why it will succeed.”
On April 20th we hosted our Annual General Meeting and Stakeholder Reception at the Alfred H. Savage Centre. Thanks to everyone who came out, particularly Honourable Amarjeet Sohi, Minister of Infrastructure and Communities and MLA Rod Loyola who represents Edmonton-Ellerslie.
We celebrated the many volunteers who dedicate their time sharing the RVA vision with our partner municipalities. We also thanked Chris Sheard, outgoing Board Chair, who spent four years in the role. Our new Chair, Brent Collingwood thanked Chris for his dedicated service and shared his goals for the RVA going forward.
Guest speaker Stephanie Neufeld from Epocor discussed the safety of the North Saskatchewan River and Mark Lund from the Voyageur Brigade Society presented the schedule for the 2017 Canadian Voyageur Brigades.
We also released our 2016 Annual Report, our first online version. It highlights the activities of the organization in 2016 and contains our financial statements. Please view it at www.rivervalley.ab.ca/report
“Our vision is to create a continuous world class metropolitan river valley park system from Devon through Parkland County, Leduc County, Edmonton, Strathcona County and Sturgeon County to Fort Saskatchewan.”