Alberta kickstarts planning for Big Island, a new provincial park in Edmonton's river valley

·1 min read
Big Island Provincial Park could be a reality by 2023.  (Sierra Club Canada Foundation - image credit)
Big Island Provincial Park could be a reality by 2023. (Sierra Club Canada Foundation - image credit)

The Big Island area of southwest Edmonton is moving closer to becoming a provincial park.

The Alberta government said Friday it has given the City of Edmonton and Enoch Cree Nation $300,000 to begin planning a provincial park on the 68-hectare parcel of Crown land along the North Saskatchewan River valley.

The money — $189,000 for Enoch Cree Nation and $109,000 for the city — will go toward ecological assessments and a traditional land-use study.

Alberta Environment and Parks projects the park will be operational by 2023.

The ecological assessments and land use study will be completed this year. Public consultations are slated for 2022.

The studies will provide information on "sustainable recreation opportunities" while ensuring Indigenous rights are respected, the province said in a news release. Protection of sensitive habitat and wildlife will also be studied.

"The Big Island project represents protection and stewardship of the water and life that land gives all peoples in the capital region," Enoch Cree Chief William Morin said in the news release.

The project is helping to bridges between other orders of government in the Treaty 6 territory, Morin said.

Big Island Provincial Park was part of the UCP election platform in the 2019 provincial election. Party leader Jason Kenney, now premier, said the UCP would spend up to $10 million to establish the park.

Big Island was a popular weekend spot for Edmontonians of the early 20th century. City residents, dressed in their finest, would ride steamboats up the river to the spot for picnics and other leisure activities.