Community Futures North Red has worked long and hard for the development of Selkirk's waterfront.
A Winnipeg forum called Greenway on the Red revealed their efforts dovetail beautifully with a growing movement to develop or redevelop the banks of the Red River corridor stretching from Winnipeg to the U.S. border.
"I would say our project is pretty important because we're the north tip of this northern corridor," said Lisa Holowchuk, Community Development Coordinator for the cF. "It is also important in that public access to the Red River in general is pretty limited."
Holowchuk attended the June conference in Winnipeg as part of the Selkirk Waterfront Development Corporation, the volunteer collective behind the waterfront project.
The Selkirk strategy was born nearly four years ago as a result of Transport Canada's proposal to offload 393 metres of the Selkirk wharf. The community expressed interest in taking ownership in order to create enhanced greenspace and commercial development for the area. Since that time, the SWDC has been working toward that goal.
What they came up with is an extensive development plan they hope will breathe new life into Selkirk's stretch along the corridor. The goals of the project are: to stimulate downtown development and revitalization; to establish the riverfront as the focus for all-season community use; to connect the riverfront with people, places and events; and to celebrate Selkirk's river port heritage.
To achieve this SWDC has plans for everything from flood proofing and infrastructure work, to walkways and an amphitheatre, to commercial development like vendor kiosks and potentially, a restaurant and hotel. "Our goal is an attractive waterfront more suitable for public use by visitors and residents and that will also encourage some commercial development," Holowchuk explained.
According to SWDC Chairperson Jack Fryatt, Community Futures North Red has made a significant contribution to the project. Community Futures North Red acts in an advisory capacity on the SWDC board.
"They played a very important role in facilitating the whole process," he said. "They helped us keep organized and they were instrumental in doing community outreach – getting our ideas out there and getting ideas from the community back to us."
Fryatt, presented at the forum which attracted a wide range of groups and individuals with a vested interest in developing the Red River corridor. He was pleased by an enthusiastic response to the Selkirk project and added it was an opportunity to connect with other groups working to preserve or redevelop river bank areas for the benefit their residents and the local economies.
Already popular in other parts of the country and the United States, Fryatt believes the trend is taking hold in Manitoba.
"In my opinion, it is not just an isolated matter," he said of projects like Selkirk's, as well as the already successful Forks in Winnipeg. "It extends through the whole region and beyond."
The Selkirk project, which includes some additional street-scaping and enhancement of streets around the waterfront, is estimated to cost $4.2 million. The city is expected to come up with a portion of that and the other levels of government will also contribute. Fryatt estimates it will take three years to complete. But that is only the beginning he says.
"We're hoping this is the starting point to spur redevelopment for the whole downtown."