London’s Back to the River project got some inspiration from Pittsburgh on Wednesday.
Planners from Pittsburgh’s ‘Riverlife‘ effort were in the Forest City to share their similar riverfront revitalization experience, a project that started in 1999, and is around 70 per cent completed.
Pittsburgh’s plan is to reclaim, restore and promote their riverfronts along a 21 kilometre continuous loop of parks and trails. Their aim is to make them the environmental, recreational, cultural and economic hub for the people in the region and their visitors.
“I think there are a lot of similarities between London and Pittsburgh,” said Riverlife spokesperson Stephan Bontrager.
“We have riverfronts that have been neglected for a number of years where the City essentially had its back turned to the river front. So, by really looking at creating public open spaces on the riverfront, where the water embraces the front door of the city, rather than the back door.”
After reviewing London’s situation and plan, Bontrager says we’re off to a good start.
“I think there is so much opportunity to draw more people and more energy and activity to the riverfront,” he said.
“You’ve already taken the first step in creating this master plan process, which is what Riverlife did in Pittsburgh back in 1999, and now you’re going to start seeing those parts being implemented and you’re going to see that sort of transformation.”
Still, London’s riverfront ambition is currently in a holding pattern because of an environmental assessment.
Back in May, London city council voted in favour of a combined Environmental Assessment for the Springbank Dam and Back to the River initiative.
Back to the River is a $5 million initiative to overhaul of the forks of the Thames, although that doesn’t include the cost of the project’s centerpiece; a pedestrian bridge that juts out over the river. That’s expected to cost an additional $2-million to construct.