Imagining Who We Could Be A Culture & Recreation Story
It is 2040, and Hinton’s riverside park is teeming with life and action. From atop a knoll, artists with easels capture the scene as a kayak slips into the water at the boat launch, adding a fresh dot of colour among the paddlers already out. Tempting aromas and laughter waft from the patchwork of picnic tables and blankets on the grass. Dogs dash into the water, enjoying off-leash frolics. Hikers, joggers, mountain bikers and bird watchers pass through on connecting trails, some stopping at interpretive signs to soak up a bit of history about the Prairie Creek construction settlement that once stood here. In the distance, a fly-fishing duo puts its skills to the test.
At long last, the community has a park that puts us in touch with the river running through. As recently as 2010, the Athabasca Riverfront was primarily industrial, with minimal public access. Now it is a popular spot that keeps both residents and visitors coming back. In fact, this park has become one of our favourite places; an anchor that draws us together and helps define who we are.
Bold sculptures and heritage markers, both here and throughout the community, add to the definition. At Green Square, for example, a bronze cougar perches atop a rock that mirrors Roche Miette, a powerful reminder of our mountain backdrop. Planned in collaboration with arts and heritage groups at The Guild and elsewhere, the streetscape improvements are part of a broader push to elevate us as a community with a unique story to tell and quality of life like no other.
Indeed, our community has become a go-to place far into the evening, all year round. Intimate coffee shops and pubs feature live music and local art while the non-stop menu of music, dance and theatre at our performing arts centre draws crowds from local, regional, national and international communities. A new park serves as a community hub, drawing people like a magnet to a host of events. Building on the success of the Föhn Festival and Winter Magic Festival, culture and recreation groups have combined forces to launch a series of annual events that are building new traditions. The long-desired museum is open and bustling, bringing history to life to a degree beyond everyone’s fondest hope.
Active living is also on the rise. Reclaimed land from nearby mining has been developed to accommodate skiing, snowboarding, tobogganing, mountain biking and more. The community is keeping its youth and attracting others who’d never have given it a second thought a decade ago.
Guiding it all is a Community Sustainability Plan that challenges us to stretch beyond status quo in art, heritage, recreation and cultural diversity. Following that roadmap, this gateway is transforming into the destination of the Northern Rockies.
For travelers, it is no longer just a gas’n’go pit stop, but a place to play awhile and, if the stars align, put down roots.
“I would like to see more of our rich history on display for all to see. I would like to see that community spirit thrive and grow.” - Community Consultation Participant