Community involvement leads to small-town feel in Rio Terrace.
By Christopher Schieman | February 1, 2016
The Rio Terrace Community League is looking to build a new spray deck by summer 2016. But the community addition isn’t as easy as it sounds.
League president Lance Burns oversees all facets of raising $375,000 to build the spray deck (nearly a third of which will come directly from the league), including writing grant applications, finding corporate sponsors and helping co-ordinate fundraising events – all while teaching photography full-time at Ross Sheppard High School. For Burns, this is a massive investment of time and effort – but this kind of involvement isn’t unusual for the more than 1,300 residents of Rio Terrace.
“Right away, people from the community got involved [with the spray deck project] , finding aspects to be invested in, and even started forming committees to see this through,” Burns says.
The small-town feel to Rio Terrace isn’t lost on Burns, who moved to the neighbourhood in 2003 and almost immediately became involved with the community league, ultimately being elected its president in 2013.
The neighbourhood was originally part of the town of Jasper Place, which was annexed by the City of Edmonton in 1964. Burns says that some of the residents who lived in Rio Terrace during the annexation still live there and have shared their memories of the area being mostly farmland.
Burns points out that many who grew up in Rio Terrace wind up moving back to start families. But things have changed, such as the cost of homes. Towards Rio Terrace’s centre are bungalow-style homes built in the 1960s and valued between $400,000 and $500,000. But, along Rio Terrace Drive, homes built in the 1970s are valued at more than $1 million.
Burns also believes the neighbourhood’s green space is a major draw. Rio Terrace boasts five designated parks and easy access to Fort Edmonton Park, Whitemud Park and the Edmonton Valley Zoo.
“One thing you see … is a lot of people walking,” Burns says. “Sometimes I even meet people from outside of Rio Terrace who came into the neighbourhood just to take a walk.”
Just a short trip across the river valley is Fort Edmonton Park, though it’s a little hard to get to on foot. But it is still possible by following the river past the Wolf Willow Ravine and across the Fort Edmonton Foot Bridge. Whether you walk or drive, it’s easy to enjoy productions at the Capitol Theatre or have a meal at Johnson’s Cafe in the Hotel Selkirk.
Rio Park is a favourite walking area not just for Rio Terrace’s residents, but for many Edmontonians who find their way to the neighbourhood. Rio Park is the largest park in the area and it provides a great view across the river valley and even into Fort Edmonton Park to the south, and into Sir Wilfrid Laurier Park to the east.
156 Street and Rio Terrace Drive,780-442-5311
Where to eat
Uncle Glenn’s Eatery and Sports Pub
“Believe it or not, Uncle Glenn’s is a hot spot in Rio Terrace,” Burns says. It’s hard not to see why. The neighbourhood pub is the only eatery in the area and has become a hub for Rio Terrace residents to get together to watch sports, hop on a shuttle bus to football games, and enjoy pizza baked in a stone oven.