I grew up hearing about our friends and neighbours fighting to stop the paving of Mill Creek Ravine and I walked across it, uphill both ways, to go to elementary school. Our river valley is the heart of our City, but how we enjoy it is changing, and like the rest of our City there are significant conflicts and pressures in our Ribbon of Green.
Central areas in our river valley are sacred gathering places for the many Indigenous nations that call amiskwacîwâskahikan (ᐊᒥᐢᑿᒌᐚᐢᑲᐦᐃᑲᐣ) home. The first Urban Indigenous Reserve was created in Edmonton only recently, but I commit to supporting the exploration of further opportunities with our local Indigenous communities.
The valley is also full of major transportation corridors, for people, vehicles and wildlife. Access to services on either side of the river are often limited by challenges crossing the river and many of our neighbours live and sleep rough, on this land.
COVID-19 has demonstrated how important a connection with nature is for mental and physical health. As our population grows, demand for equitable and accessible access to our wild places will only grow too. Edmonton is warming at three times the average rate and with rapid warming there will be impacts on our primary water source, the ecosystem services provided by our natural areas, and the wildlife corridor. These conflicting pressures exacerbate already existing tensions about how we negotiate the use and access to these natural areas. A comprehensive look at cumulative impacts and human use patterns and accessibility, especially in the core of our City, will help us make more informed decisions about how to best respond to these pressures in our river valley.