With restrictions heightened once again and no idea what summer will bring, there isn’t much that Edmontonians can do for fun, but Fort Edmonton Park is hoping to change that. Originally, the intention was to open in May 2020, but the park is now slated to open July 1, 2021, subject to Alberta Health Services (AHS) restrictions.
The Fort Edmonton Park enhancement project cost $165 million and was funded by all three levels of government. The project that has been under construction since the fall of 2018 consisted of enhancing underground utility work such as sewage lines and fibre optic cables, as well as adding new features such as a Ferris wheel, outdoor maze, Cabinet of Curios exhibit, funhouse, and expanded game selection. There has also been a new front entry plaza and admissions area added that creates a lot of room for those coming and going.
Rene Williams, senior vice president of Fort Edmonton Park Management, says that although the idea for this expansion began many years ago, there was always the notion of developing the Indigenous narrative in the park. A media release from the Park says that the Indigenous Peoples Experience, which is a new exhibit where visitors will explore life through the eyes of First Nations and Métis peoples, is very exciting for Fort Edmonton Park management. Here visitors can experience histories, cultures, experiences, and perspectives local to Indigenous life. The exhibit was created through a partnership between Fort Edmonton Management Company, the Confederacy of Treaty Six First Nations, and the Métis Nation of Alberta. “Engagement was critical for us because again it’s not Fort Edmonton’s narrative it’s the narrative of indigenous communities across these lands, so that was a value we held very high and still do today,” says Williams.
With a vast new list of enhancements, going to Fort Edmonton Park will feel like a unique experience for even the most seasoned Edmontonian. With all of the outdoor activities and large open areas, It may prove to be one of the best options for outdoor fun during the second summer of the ongoing COVID pandemic. If restrictions lift and the doors open July 1, Edmontonians will be in for an enhanced trip back in time.
In the meantime, Williams says, “all of our information about timed ticketing and timed entry and how we are going to handle the environment in the context of COVID, is going to be up on the sites and our channels, and we want to make sure people are well informed and know what to expect for their visit.” Williams also encourages guests to share stories of their visit on Fort Edmonton Park’s social media channels, “We want to hear from people. Fort Edmonton Park has been around since the ‘70s, and it’s the story of the destination that is Edmonton and the roots and upbringing, and of course, now we are introducing the indigenous peoples narrative into that as well, and we want to hear stories and what were favourite park memories and what are some things that people really enjoyed doing over the years.”
Image courtesy of Fort Edmonton Park.