Project Name: Soft Outdoor Destinations and Experiences – Canadian Heritage Grand River 

One of 42 Canadian Heritage Rivers designated as such in 1984, the Grand River, with major tributaries the Nith, Conestogo, Speed and Eramosa rivers, flows throughout RTO4. The requirements for heritage river designation are exceptional heritage features and values as well as distinct recreational opportunities they present within the watershed.

The Grand River, spanning 280 kilometres, runs through RTO1, 3 and 4. With the support of municipal and county representatives and former members of the voluntary marketing coalition Grand River Country, the RTOs jointly devised a project to evaluate usage and awareness of the Grand River, and to initiate the process of restoring it.

As a result, collaborative public and private partnerships and funding have created an ongoing, multi-year, multimillion-dollar reinvestment to develop signage, facilities and access points to improve the Grand River’s market readiness.

The Grand River Access Point Standards Manual and Pilot Design Planswas developed with support from the Ontario Ministry of Tourism, Culture and Sport’s Tourism Development Fund (TDF) and creates a template for access point development and signage for the entire river. The manual and plan was conceived as a starting point to initiate engagement with public and private interest groups and individuals under an “adopt a highway” asset stewardship model.

Building the local community network in and around Elora & Fergus was a focus in 2016. Thanks to a successful partnership with Friends of the Grand and Centre Wellington, the final touches of the pilot site of Wilson’s Flats are underway, with the grand opening slated for Spring 2018.

Meetings with stakeholders demonstrated significant interest and political will, particularly within Kitchener-Waterloo. As a result, the development of three additional access points was initiated in Fall/Winter 2017. The City of Waterloo, City of Kitchener, Stanley Park Optimist Club, and have all expressed interest in participating in the site improvements.

2018/2019 Objectives

OBJECTIVE #1– Completion of Wilson’s Flats access point as a pilot site.

OBJECTIVE #2– Facilitate planning and development of second and third access points

OBJECTIVE #3 – Investigate marketing and product development opportunities to animate and showcase the Grand River as a provincially significant water trail.

Key Activities

  • Wilson’s Flats Grand Opening
  • Planning and Development of second, third and fourth access points – Victoria Street (2) and Kaufman’s Flats
  • Investigate product development and marketing opportunities

For more details on this project, please visit the 2018/2019 RTO4 Business Plan, pages 32-34.