Tag Archives: Cloverdale footbridge

Not My River Valley

Where you at, Cloverdale Footbridge?

For the first time in months – many months – I walked in Mill Creek Ravine (on Monday, after work). I totally neglected it during the winter, and most of autumn. Sorry Mill Creek. You know you are still my favourite ravine.

Hello I love you, Mill Creek Ravine

Since the last time I was down there, many things have changed, and not for the better. First surprise, Wild Earth Bakery is closed, and so is Wild Earth Foods (formerly IGA), my grocery store for two decades. How very sad. I feel like I dodged a bullet by choosing not to move back into that area, but I feel very sorry for those who still live in this beautiful, walkable neighbourhood two blocks from Mill Creek. Although the bakery had many incarnations over the years (it was a pharmacy in 1990 when I moved there, and then a video store), it became a real meeting spot for locals in the ten years of its existence. I have many fond and delicious memories of the trail mix cookies that I would often treat myself to after long walks in Mill Creek. Developers are building a couple of high-rise towers on that lot, so the small businesses are not wanted on that inevitable voyage.

After that shock, I carried on through the familiar houses on 89th, but did not see Godzilla in his pot, where he should be this late in spring. Did his owners move too? Jesus Christ.

Mill Creek Ravine (south) is thankfully the same, as far as I can tell. Still beautiful. Still deeply familiar. Also, very dry. There are lots of tiny green things that will become big green things once we get some more rain. The creek is not too low, so we’re not in a drought, but the dominant colour is still brown.

From the bridge, facing south

From the bridge, facing north

Once I crossed the pedestrian bridge over Connor’s Road, that’s when things started to change BIG TIME.

Lots of trees cut down on both sides of Connor’s Hill, and there is already some sort of structure below the hill beside the Muttart, probably the LRT station. No more running down, or up that hill. And so the only path left is around the ski club, through the Muttart parking lot, and up the pedestrian bridge over 98th. But only so far. The path has been narrowed and curved, so instead of walking into a canopy of green at Henrietta Muir Park and the Cloverdale bridge, it’s a construction site leading commuters back onto 98th.

It was jarring to see the site. I won’t go into what a devastating loss I feel looking over at all that ugliness, but suffice to say it was pretty awful. And in my mind, and many other minds, completely unnecessary. But, it is done.

Instead of a canopy of trees, what now greets pedestrians at the north end of the 98th street footbridge

After that, I dove back into the woods at the River Queen entrance, walking along the lightly verdant trail until I reached the Low Level Bridge. At this point, I had been walking for more than an hour and I was tired, hot and deflated, so I decided to treat myself to my first ever ride on the Funicular.

The Funicular is another thing that didn’t need to happen, but I enjoyed the ride and especially the views. As it only goes half way up (or down, depending on your orientation) I’m not sure it achieves the true accessibility to the river valley trails that was its original purpose. And, the elevator to the funicular wasn’t working, so in the end, I still walked up a bunch of stairs, but only half as many as I would have walked if this fancy escalator didn’t exist.

Walking up to the funicular

Funicularing

I miss my old river valley. Thankfully, it’s a long river, with many points of interest. But this area was really special to me. I knew it well. And now it’s gone.

Goodbye Friend

Bridge feet

Tom and DonnaTom and I walked over the Cloverdale footbridge for the last time yesterday. The City is closing it down on Monday; its destruction nigh.

I have written extensively in this blog about the south east LRT (now called the Valley Line) expansion into the river valley. I’ve attended public forums, sent letters to the Edmonton Journal, made every effort to seek information and I’ve joined forces with the good, and much more eloquent folks of the Save the Footbridge lobby. I’ve considered all sides and reached a single conclusion:

To quote Groucho Marx, I’m against it.

DM on the bridge

DM on the bridge. Vandalism seems trivial for a doomed bridge.

From an environmental and aesthetic perspective, gouging into our beloved and heavily PR’d river valley makes no sense. In terms of transportation, the use of existing corridors seems both financially responsible and environmentally sound. Everything I’ve read about BRT (or Bus Rapid Transit) suggests, at the very least, we need to take a sober and genuine second look at light rapid transit.

“If you’ve gone part way down the incorrect path, that’s regrettable—but not as regrettable as going all the way down the incorrect path.”

These words were spoken by Mayor Ivor Dent in April of 1972. City council had just voted to put the brakes on an invasive transportation plan which would’ve plowed a freeway through the MacKinnon Ravine (Vue Magazine).

That was then.

Rose garden on the north end of the bridge two years ago

Rose garden on the north end of the bridge two years ago

Apple tree in the rose garden a few years ago

Apple tree in the rose garden a few years ago

Rose garden now...

Rose garden now…

There is no energy on the part of City Council to reverse or even reconsider this decision, which appears to have been a fait accompli from the beginning.

With all due respect to the bridge, it’s not the steel and wood structure that I will miss. It’s not a beautiful bridge. It’s utilitarian, and there is at least one other like it in the city (in the Goldbar area). However, the location of this bridge, in the heart of the city and the river valley, makes it irreplaceable. Yes, in four years (probably more, given the transportation department’s ridiculous track record), this area will see a new bridge, maybe even a nice bridge, but it will serve the southeast LRT, not the pedestrians who use it, not the people who live around it, and certainly not the nature that surrounds it.

Gone, the peace of the central river valley.

View from a bridge

Gone, the unobstructed view of the river valley, with the vast and quiet expanse of sky above.

Gone, the trees, plants and wildlife that made this area their home, especially the canopy of poplar trees at the south end of the bridge. In the middle of summer, it was like walking into a lush and secret grove. In the winter, like a Gorey landscape.

south end of bridge

south end of bridge

south east side of the bridge, now

south east end of the bridge, now

Gone, the City’s commitment to The Way We Green river valley strategic plan.

Gone, the rose garden in Louise McKinney Park.

Gone, the Botanical Society gardens on the Muttart grounds.

Gone, the best commuter bridge for pedestrians in the city. A meeting place, a viewing place, and an iconic and beautiful Edmonton place.

There’s not much more to say. This bridge and the area around it has given me so much over the last 20+ years. Nothing I could say could ever repay the grace and beauty I’ve received. If it’s possible to call a thing a friend, the Cloverdale pedestrian bridge was a friend.

Goodbye friend.

Bridge on a blue sky day

A list of every blogpost where I’ve mentioned the Cloverdale Bridge by name in Donna’s River Valley (which still does not even come close to capturing all the moments I’ve spent on the bridge).

River blue...

River blue…

A bridge in winter

A bridge in winter