Published on March 8, 2021

North Sask. River up for Heritage Designation

Photo Credit: North Saskatchewan Watershed Alliance.

The majestic North Saskatchewan River is being considered for a Canadian Heritage Rivers System designation. Currently, Smoky Lake County has gathered more than 47 letters of support from communities and community groups along the North Saskatchewan River. The City of St. Albert was also asked to support this initiative and Council is committed to endorsing it. 

Supporting the heritage river designation aligns with the City’s strategic priority for environmental stewardship by seeking innovative practices to protect waterways and green spaces and reduce our environmental footprint, to ensure the vitality of our natural resources for future generations.

The City of St. Albert is situated within the North Saskatchewan Watershed and is an active contributor to the Sturgeon River Watershed Alliance

The Canadian Heritage Rivers System (CHRS) is Canada’s national program for recognizing, celebrating and conserving the natural, cultural and recreational values of 40 rivers across Canada.

What is a Heritage River?

A heritage river is recognized nationally for its outstanding natural, cultural and recreational heritage. These rivers are an important part of Canada and shape who we  are as a nation.

How are Rivers Designated to the Canadian Heritage Rivers System?

There are several steps to enact the North Saskatchewan River as a heritage river. Smoky Lake County has submitted the application and the City of St. Albert will write a letter to support the national recognition. 

For a river to be nominated to the CHRS it must have a high level of public support and contain natural and/or cultural values of Canadian significance. In addition, it may also be recognized for outstanding recreational values. 

If the nomination of the North Saskatchewan River’s natural and historical values aligns with the cultural and natural frameworks for Canadian Heritage Rivers, then it can be officially approved by the appropriate provincial or territorial minister and the minister responsible for Parks Canada.

After the formal nomination is announced by the federal and provincial governments a designation document must be prepared that describes how the river will be managed to conserve its outstanding natural, cultural and recreational values.

The board will review the designation document and provide its recommendation to the appropriate provincial or territorial minister to formally designate the river to the CHRS.

Here is more information on the step-by-step process of how a river is designated as a Canadian Heritage River.

What are the Benefits of a Heritage Designation?

Being a part of the Canadian Heritage Rivers System means an opportunity to:

  • foster cooperative river management that unites communities.
  • celebrate and support the cultural connections of Indigenous Peoples with rivers.
  • tell the stories of our nation, building sense of identity and pride.
  • stimulate adventure travel and sustainable tourism.
  • help Canadians connect to history, nature and cultural traditions.
  • promote stewardship and citizen engagement.
  • engage new Canadians and youth in river education, conservation and recreation.
  • encourage the protection of water resources to improve public health, well-being and quality of life.

The benefits of the North Saskatchewan River receiving a formal designation as a heritage river will only enhance the community of St. Albert. The current path of the Sturgeon River follows the prehistoric valley of the North Saskatchewan River. The designation will encourage residents to preserve and protect the aquatic ecosystems of the Sturgeon River that flows into the North Saskatchewan River .

Sturgeon River in St. Albert


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Last edited: March 10, 2021