From the Edmonton Journal July 1978:
“A large portion of Edmonton residents, almost 30 per cent, have difficulty affording the simplest and least expensive of recreational advantages.
Fifty-three provincial parks and five national parks dot Alberta's landscape, providing enjoyment both for Albertans and visitors to this province.
Yet large numbers of her citizens, of low income, disadvantaged, ageing or infirm, may never be able to afford the luxury of a drive to the countryside or wilderness for the relaxation and recreation these parks can provide.
It was to provide improved recreational opportunities for all Edmontonians, as well as to upgrade river facilities before the 1978 Commonwealth Games, that the Alberta government decided to provide about $34 million for a parks development in the river valley of east Edmonton. (The amount was set in terms of a 1974 dollar value.)
Most of the planning and development for this river area, now known as the Capital City Recreation Park, is complete. It complements the city's 1970 master plan for parks development and provides funds for trails, landscaping, shoreline stabilization, public use amenities, a science centre, four pedestrian bridges, fresh water lagoons, and property acquisition within two narrow strips on both banks of the North Saskatchewan River.
The vision, to provide a recreation playground in the river heart of a rapidly growing and modem city, is not a new one.
As early as 1907, the city council of that era entertained a report by Frederick G. Todd, a landscape architect from Montreal that designed a plan for parks and boulevards in Edmonton. It recommended ..."every advantage should be taken of the great natural beauty of the situation by withdrawing for parks purposes, property, such as the river valley and ravines." Mr. Todd's recommendation for a river valley park system was accepted and adopted into the 1915 city plan.
In 1933, the city zoned much of the area for use as a "public park", introducing land use regulations to that effect.
A further report, the Bland-Spence Sales Report, was adopted in principle by city council in 1949. It recommended a "comprehensive system of parkways" throughout the whole river valley and proposed a system by which development in the river valley could be opposed. This was first implemented in 1951 when council approved a plan showing Rosedale Flats as proposed parkland.
With the application, in 1968, for a permit to develop an apartment project that would intrude 60 feet into the river valley, council was asked to consider a "top-of-the-bank" policy as legislation. When it was adopted, in 1970, it defined the limit of the river valley and ravine system, introduced principles governing development in proximity to the river valley and prescribed regulation for development permits or zoning certificates in areas adjacent to the limit of the river valley and ravine system.
The city's general plan by-law of 1971 for the first time gave legal authority to river valley policy objectives and designated lands for long-range acquisition for future parks development
A joint announcement by the provincial and city governments, that some $34 million would be made available for specific areas within a 16-kilometre long stretch from the area below the Legislative Building to Hermitage Park in the city's extreme northeast comer, was made April 26, 1974. It was ratified on February 11, 1975 when the park's agreement was signed by the premier, Peter Lougheed, and Edmonton’s mayor of that period, the late William Hawrelak.
Premier Lougheed described the plan as "the most exciting and novel approach to assuring the quality of life for families in metropolitan centres yet proposed for Canadian cities."
Currently, the river valley is primarily zoned metropolitan recreational, but does include land zone for other uses.”