The city kicked off the second phase of the Dawson Park and Kinnaird Ravine Master Plan last month by asking citizens to share their vision for the future.

An open house held at Alex Taylor School on Jan. 17 invited residents to help craft a vision statement, vote on preferred features, and map out their ideal park to inform design concepts that will be presented in the next phase.

“In terms of vision, we’re looking for people to tell us what they imagine for the park 25 years into the future,” said Cheryl Clieff, a city parks planner.

The city conducted the last comprehensive plan for the area in 1975. This previous plan envisioned the park as a rest area with basic amenities as well as hiking and cycling trails. Since then, the city’s population has nearly doubled, placing greater demands on the park.

“At the last session, we asked people what they really liked about the park, and what kind of improvements they would like to see. Now, we’re building on that to get a little bit more specific,” Clieff added.

Using feedback collected from the first phase and the results of an environmental sensitivities analysis, the city identified a set of principles to guide plans for the five types of terrain that make up the park: the mobility corridor, river valley slopes, plateau parks, river edge, and Kinnaird Ravine.

One of these principles considers trail enhancements to the main route in the ravine’s single gravel path. But the steep slopes, dense vegetation, and high habitat potential also flag the zone as the most environmentally sensitive.

“It doesn’t necessarily equate to ‘less will be planned,’” Clieff said. “It means that if there is development that’s going to happen there, that is a trade off from the environment, and we need to make that informed decision.”

Michael Reyes, a Riverdale resident, expressed an interest in safety measures added to the ravine, such as lighting for more flexible use, but voiced concern over the impact the infrastructure might have on the environment.

“Kinnaird is definitely very natural, so you don’t want to be too invasive with that part,” Reyes said.

Reyes is a Spruce Grove city planner, but he also uses the river valley as a dragonboat paddler. As such, he said he understands the conflict between desires to enhance and preserve the park from both sides of the equation.

“A lot of people want to keep the park the same, but yet improve it, so it’s like, how far are you willing to go to get out of the status quo?” he added.

The final two phases, planned for the spring and summer, will propose design options for further feedback before submitting the final plan to city council in the fall.

Reports on the outcome of the planning phases along with details on how to participate in the process are available at

Header Image: City parks planner Cheryl Clieff answered questions and guided visitors at the open house for the Dawson Park and Kinnaird Ravine Master Plan.| Hamdi Issawi