Design updated following 2013 floods

The newest addition to Cochrane’s parks and pathways system is set to open later this month.

Following a redesign after the 2013 floods, Riverfront Park will open on Aug. 29 with a ceremony featuring the Cochrane Pipe Band, a Native Elder blessing, First Nations dancers, and remarks from Wild Rose MP Blake Richards, Banff-Cochrane MLA Cam Westhead and Cochrane Mayor Ivan Brooker.

Riverfront Park is one of a new generation of urban parks that showcase natural areas within an urban environment. The park has been in planning since the Open Spaces Master Plan was approved by Council in 2012. Changes were made to the design after the 2013 floods, but senior manager of community services Suzanne Gaida thinks the final design is even better.

“Riverfront Park is Cochrane’s most complete and diverse public space,” said Gaida. “This park protects a part of the riverfront vulnerable to floods, while showcasing a wide variety of natural features and making them easy for everyone to access.”

Riverfront Park incorporates a wetland walk, natural playground, picnic area and river access, as well as creek, meadow, wetland and woodland habitat areas. The park will add to the roughly nine per cent of town land devoted to parks and open spaces.

Families can explore the park and participate in family activities running after the opening ceremony: guided nature walks, Native Elder interpretive talk, Pond Discovery program from Glenbow Ranch Provincial Park, fly fishing with Shoreline Risers Guiding Company, the Cochrane Fun Van and more.

All events take place near the arboretum in Riverfront Park, west of the intersection of Highway 22 and Griffin Road (west of the boat launch).

Riverfront Park has easy connections to Cochrane’s extensive pathway system. Event attendees are encouraged to find a nearby pathway connection and walk or bike to the park.

Earlier this year, the town announced a 14-kilometre pathway that will allow cyclists and pedestrians to make their way to and from Calgary. Phase one of the $7.5-million project will be a 2.2-kilometre stretch entitled Bearspaw Trail, which will join Haskayne Park in northwest Calgary to Glenbow Ranch Provincial Park.

Phase two will include the development of Bowbend Loop and Railway Crossing, which has an expected completion date of 2018, followed by phase three, Bridge to Cochrane, which is expected to be completed by 2020.