Edmonton’s newest Downtown destination!

While the funicular may be the most attention grabbing and unique part of the Mechanized River Valley Access, the project is about so much more! Mechanized Access will create a new destination in our city — one that will allow people of all ages and abilities to access one of Edmonton’s most prized assets. This innovative, barrier-free system will allow people to enjoy both our vibrant Downtown and our amazing river valley within minutes. And while connectivity to nature is a key element, the project has also been designed to include programmable spaces, and places for active play, social engagement and relaxation.

The plan (TE size)

This new city-building project has seven key elements:

The Promontory (top platform)

A promontory has been designed to take advantage of the amazing views from the top of the bank near the Hotel Macdonald. Stop under the sheltered canopy as you load onto the funicular, take a moment to relax at one of the seating areas, or spend a few moments at the top of the urban staircase taking in the sights.

The promontory (TE Size)

The Stairs

Designed for more than getting from point A to point B, these are not your typical river valley stairs. Wide and welcoming, the stairs are a place to linger, to stop and sit, or to get in your daily workout. For those cyclists not wanting to take the funicular, a bike rail runs the length of the stairs.

The stairs (TE size)

The Funicular

With plenty of space for wheelchairs, walkers, strollers and bikes, the glass enclosed funicular will descend from the top of the bank to a promenade above the valley floor. The funicular will fit up to 20 people and can accommodate different configurations of bikes, trailers, strollers, and specialized equipment like wheelchairs or mobility scooters.

The Promenade

The steps and the funicular will land on a promenade, which includes a grassy seating area with benches for people to stop and enjoy the views. The promenade is designed to accommodate both through-traffic and citizens wanting to eat lunch, watch the sunset, or perhaps take in the Canada Day fireworks!

The Bridge

Connecting the promenade to the lookout, the bridge will provide a safe passage for pedestrians across Grierson Hill Road.

The bridge (TE size)

The Lookout

The bridge gently slopes down to overlook the edge of the river. A glass railing and built-in seating will allow a seamless, breathtaking experience. Take in the flow of the river and the downtown skyline!

The lookout (TE size)


The Elevator

The elevator is an essential part of creating accessible, barrier-free access to the river valley. From the bridge, an elevator and a staircase will connect the Mechanized River Valley Access to the existing trail system and Louise McKinney Park, the Low Level Bridge and the Rossdale/River Crossing area.

The Mechanized River Valley Access project will be a new entranceway into Downtown and a new focal point in the river valley. This exciting new addition to the Downtown is made possible by funding from the River Valley Alliance, the Government of Canada and the Government of Alberta. In 2013, the City of Edmonton received $72.9 million in funding from the River Valley Alliance, and the provincial and federal governments for initiatives to increase access and connectivity within the river valley. Of this $72.9 million, the City of Edmonton contributed $1.7 million. The budget for the Mechanized River Valley Access project is $24 million.
More information on all the River Valley Alliance projects can be found at Edmonton.ca/rivervalleyprojects.


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About the Author
Cheryl Mitchell
Cheryl Mitchell is a communications advisor with the City of Edmonton. She is a member of the Reputation Unit which is responsible for promoting Edmonton to the world as well as managing the communication around some of Edmonton’s most transformational projects like the downtown arena and Blatchford.
  1. Mark
    3 years ago

    The article indicates one of the primary users of this system will be cyclist and it also labels it as a ‘barrier-free system’. By looking at the drawings, I don’t see any legal way to cycle to it from downtown?

  2. Cheryl Mitchell
    3 years ago

    Hi Mark, thanks for the question.

    Because the location of the top bank of the Mechanized River Valley Access project is in the same location as the existing staircase, there will be no change to how cyclists access the area from downtown. Currently, bikers are required to dismounted and walk their bikes up/down the stairs (using the bike rails), and continue to walk until they get to a safe roadway to begin riding again. This current design encourages that same approach, and we continue to encourage a “share the path” approach when on the Mechanized Access promenade or bridge. The bottom of the Mechanized River Valley Access project will connect to existing river valley trails for cyclists and other users.

  3. […] Edmonton has a feature on the funicular that will be constructed near the Fairmont Hotel Macdonald. The stairs are now […]

  4. Mark
    3 years ago

    Thank you for the response Cheryl.

    I find this disappointing since this is not aligned with Edmonton’s ‘Transportation Master Plan’ or ‘The Way We Move’ strategies.

    I have found that several recent projects are not following strategy. Another example is the 99 Street/ Sask Drive intersection redesign. This intersection connects two major cycling route, however it is impossible to cycle though it.

    Having the strategies are nice, but they mean nothing if there is no attempt to execute on them.


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