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River Crossing: The New Urban Ethic: Episode 6: The Water Front Promenade

Touching the Water - Walking the Talk!

In Episode 7, Erik Backstrom and Nathan Roth at the City of Edmonton talk about the “Touch The Water Promenade” – which will enable future physical access to and from River Crossing to the waterfront.  This first section of the Promenade will span from River Crossing in the Rossdale Area – to eventually connect to the North Shore Area along the North Saskatchewan River.

Erik provides context on how the Touch the Water Promenade will tie into the River Crossing urban development project, and act as a connector to the Rossdale Area, the North Shore Area and to future boat docks that will be built along the river by the River Valley Alliance.

Image Credit: City of Edmonton
Image Credit: River Valley Alliance
Image Credit: FutureCite Inc
Image Credit: FutureCite Inc

The Touch the Water Promenade is currently in the public consultation stage, and is seeking creative ideas from citizens, communities  and companies!



The River Valley Alliance has in its future plans, boat docks that will enable you to park your boat or canoe, or hop off a water taxi and walk up to the shops and cafes.  Following, you will be able to paddle or motor your boat up or downstream to other boat docks along the river to seek other and lifestyle adventure and activities!

Image Credit: FutureCite Inc & River Crossing Concept of Plan

 For those seeking a work life balance nested right next to nature you may find the perfect balance nested here in the river valley.

With the addition of a future Promenade you may have an easy decision after a lunch one of the future PumpHouse cafes or bars to continue on a walk or run after along the  the River Valley Park 100km of nature trails connected to the many pedestrian and bike bridges.




Image Credit: FutureCite Inc

Oh, did someone say you had to head back to work?  No worry  –  it’s only a few minutes to walk back from the Touch the Water Promenade to your workplace downtown, or alternatively if you are doing virtual work, to the nearest pub or café.

You may even have time to fit in a visit to the arts & entertainment district before you walk home at the end of a great evening.  Ahhh, such is the good life!


Image Credit: Randall Tallbot

Have ideas about connecting the waterfront lifestyle?  Let the City know! And hint about the attractiveness in the not so far future of water taxis, flying cars and autonomous vehicles of Intelligent Cities as options for land, water and air mobility.

Both Erik and Nathan at the City will welcome your ideas!



Waterfront real estate is a sought after commodity in any city – in particular one that is located along a pristine River Valley System that has not seen commercial or industrial development in decades in the City of Edmonton.  Yes, it is about location!  It’s a peninsula of land where the new Rossdale Bridge spans over the North Saskatchewan River –  from the south river bank to the iconic architecture of the former Rossdale Power Plant.  The River Crossing plan connects the vibrant downtown core to the north, with the Rossdale community to the east.
The City is ready to take on the next stage of connecting its downtown core and residential Rossdale community with the highly anticipated waterfront development of the River Crossing initiative.  Its vision is to connect the waterfront residential communities and the vibrant growing downtown district with waterfront access to the North Saskatchewan River Valley  System – one of the largest contiguous river valley park systems in North America!  (See past Episode

In previous Episodes we covered the ICE District in the City’s downtown core which kick started the $multi-billion development of new residential and commercial buildings – including Rogers Place Arena, the Stantec Tower, the JW Marriott, and several residential mixed use high-rise developments.  (See

image Credit: City of Edmonton

Developing River Crossing’s river facing peninsula of land needs visionary insight to fully capture and realize the location and amenity  opportunities presented  by a pristine river waterfront and the power plant’s industrial architectural facilities designated for reuse!  San Francisco captured its waterfront, Vancouver has the Seawall, and Toronto is developing its Harbourfront.

It’s an opportunity for visionary developers who understand the key Living and Lifestyle elements needed to interest both citizens and visitors, and to attract future innovation, technology and service businesses who are looking for easy access to lifestyle activities and a work /life balance culture for their NextGen demographic and technology hires.  Imagine walking minutes away from home or work into nature’s River Valley –  to  swim or canoe, and discover 100 kilometers of natural and groomed  park trails to cycle, run, or hike, or be able to walk  to sports, dining and world class entertainment venues.

About Erik Backstrom RPP, MCIP
Senior Planner, Planning Strategies at City of Edmonton

Image Credit: Erik Backstrom

Erik and leads transformational planning projects, with focus to those involving under-utilized land (having a high degree of political involvement) requiring strategic investment from the City of Edmonton to provide a foundation for future private sector investment.  He also has involvement in transit-oriented development projects and the next generation of planning for Old Strathcona.  Erik currently manages the River Crossing initiative.  He has a Master of Community and Regional Planning from the University of British Columbia, and a Bachelor of Arts/ Geography from the University of Alberta.  He has lectured at the University of Alberta School of Urban and Regional Planning and served on the board of the Alberta Professional Planners Institute (APPI), and is now the APPI historian.

About River Crossing

Image Credit: City of Edmonton

River Crossing is at the heart of the urban core of the City of Edmonton – located between the City’s downtown core  to the north, and the University of Alberta across the river to the south.  A natural landing spot of the architecturally iconic Walterdale bridge, River Crossing connects North America’s largest contiguous River Valley Park System, to  the Rossdale residential communities,  Kinsmen sports facilities, a ball park, public parks, the Provincial Legislature grounds, and cultural and as well as museum facilities.

River Crossing land area covers approximately 17.6 hectares (ha), of which 80% is owned by the City of Edmonton. Much of the River Crossing area is currently undeveloped open space (only certain portions of the area are currently zoned for open space uses). The former Rossdale Power Plant and Pumphouses in the River Crossing  locations along the river front are designated for future reuse.  Lands along the North Saskatchewan River include well-used multi-use trail connections (and access to boat launches).  Part of the EPCOR Rossdale site along the river front is to be subdivided and designed to become the Touch the Water Promenade.

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