Monday is the last night to weigh in on the City of Edmonton's plan to revamp a core part of Edmonton's river valley.
The City's Touch the Water Promenade project proposes redesigning a four-kilometre stretch of land just north of the North Saskatchewan River, between the Groat Road Bridge and the Rossdale neighbourhood.
Two riverfront promenade concepts — developed after a round of public consultation last fall — are up for discussion.
The Gateways concept proposes creating three large gathering places, as well as restoring the buried Groat Ravine creek.
The Threads concept proposes more gathering spaces of a smaller size along the edge of the river. Portions of this plan include separated pathways, accommodating both active commuters and pedestrians who prefer exploring the area at a slower pace.
Both plans feature more diverse plants and a widened pathway running along the entire stretch of land.
An online poll suggests the Threads proposal is most popular, with 55 per cent of 303 votes cast for that concept, but the Gateways concept has its defenders.
Claire MacDonald, who submitted her opinions about both concepts to the City earlier this month, said a daylit creek, educational opportunities and other amenities included in the Gateways plan could attract people who might not otherwise visit the river valley.
"What I love about it is that they are creating spaces where people of all abilities are able to gather," she said.
Elizabeth Cytko also prefers the Gateways concept. She said she supports the Groat Ravine creek daylighting and preserving natural areas over building more concrete paths.
Though she likes the project in general, she said she worries both plans do not go far enough in recognizing the significance of the Rossdale area for First Nations and Métis peoples.
"I know the city has done consultation, but when I look at the plan, I wonder if that consultation is reflected in the plan," she said.
In a post on its website, Bike Edmonton, the non-profit society formerly known as the Edmonton Bicycle Commuters Society, praised the Threads concept for prioritizing connectivity and movement but criticized both plans for lacking shelters from the elements.
"Having places where you can shelter and warm up is really important," Bike Edmonton's executive director Christopher Chan said in an interview, pointing out that cyclists, runners and pedestrians use the river valley year-round.
Shelters would also make the area more accessible to people who cannot be out for very long in the cold, he added.
Some residents question the purpose of the entire project, from a cost and ecological conservation perspective.
A Facebook post by the Edmonton River Valley Conservation Coalition argued that the river valley should be protected and restored, not further degraded.
Construction funding for the project has not been approved, nor have costs been determined for implementing each concept.
"We'll be ready for funding when it becomes available," said Geoff Smith, general supervisor of open space planning and design at the City of Edmonton.
"We can complete the planning phase of this project within this mandate of Council, and then it likely will be for future councils to decide which components of the projects they would like to advance," he said.