River Station District: Bringing Urban Living North
This development offers an urban waterfront lifestyle akin to Vancouver and Calgary while respecting the heritage of railway lines and barges. The River Station District is not only changing the physical landscape beside the Clearwater River, but also its livability.
“Our city of Fort McMurray must be the only one in Canada that has totally ignored the value on our door step,” says Bill de Silva who along with Liam de Silva are the moving force behind LIAM’s River Station District.
“Our River Station District has a unique heritage of railway lines and barges. This was the location of a railway line that stopped here and unloaded goods that were rolled into barges that went up the Athabasca. It was the gateway to service the North. The barges are still in the boat museum today.”
With bicycle and jogging paths, a riverside boardwalk, past historic vessels, terraced steps to a public dock and boat launch, LIAM’s River Station District gives an urban centre living in a northern city.
“Fort McMurray has an educated population of professionals from all over the world that are looking for a semblance of what they have been used to in their own countries,” notes Liam. “We have all that in this inner city.”
The River Station District featuring more than 110,000 square foot of retail and hospitality space with over 316 apartment condos and extended stay suites.
This growing waterfront community is becoming the new heartbeat of downtown.
“We have created over seven foodie places to eat including Mediterranean and Ramen Noodles; Crossfit, yoga and massage for healthy living; the arts centre building that has visiting artists and a new car wash centre close to the locally run Avenue Coffee. It all adds up to the lifestyle that the inner city needs.”
“The Waters Edge condos are luxury living with penthouse units commanding a complete vista of the Athabasca River from their living rooms with 14-foot high ceilings.”
This River Station District is the first real, walkable inner-city project planned and executed in Fort McMurray.
“We are not just building it; we are changing the landscape,”
“We are very proud of our work in bringing our vision for this amazing value on Fort McMurray’s doorstep . The mixed use for live, work and play has been the basis of the development while trying to capture the breath-taking views of the waterfront and the surrounding hills.”
Situated above a commercial main floor, The Waters Edge offers exclusive apartment condos with private access to a secluded courtyard and are within walking distance of The River Station.
It is described as Fort McMurray’s newest luxury condo project; a development with unprecedented quality and leading edge style. These spacious, modern condos are accented with quality amenities including state-of-the-art induction cook tops, high quality stainless steel appliances and modern bathroom fixtures complete with a steam shower system plus heated underground parking. Residents will enjoy the future home of a connected boardwalk development creating a safe and comfortable public open space for year-round enjoyment along the waterfront.
As the hub of LIAM’s waterfront development, The River Station District has a village life-style by creating a square reminiscent of days gone by, but with amenities suitable for the 21st century lifestyle.
Re-creating this village square with access to shops and services, reduces the land footprint, offering an opportunity to live work and play all in one location.
Offering a variety of commercial spaces, The River Station District serves as a hub for an exciting, new urban centre never seen before in Fort McMurray.
DEVELOPMENT OF CHOICE
“LIAM has been a local developer/builder in Fort McMurray for close to 40 years and have stressed the quality and service in their output.”
“We see the boat launch dock across from Marshall Street as a key point for developing the waterfront coupled with the services that The River Station District offers.”
“The trails alongside the river should be rejuvenated and the riverside should be made more accessible with picnic tables and a pebble beach, all at minimal cost.”
“To sum up, The River Station District is a vibrant neighbourhood of parks, health and wellness, residences, hotels, restaurants, craft beer, lattes…that will satisfy the appetite of urban dwellers seeking a lively place to call home.”
Located along Prairie Loop, The River Station District flanks the Clearwater River, which was designated a Canadian Heritage River on the strength of its outstanding natural and cultural heritage features as well as its diverse opportunities for recreation. The Saskatchewan section was designated in 1987, while the Alberta section, which includes the 31-km lower section of the Christina River, was designated in 2004. The total length of the designation is 326 km.
According to the Canadian Heritage River Systems, the Clearwater flows westward from its headwaters in Broach Lake, in northwestern Saskatchewan, to its confluence with the Athabasca River in Fort McMurray. The Clearwater River is, as its name implies, an unspoiled, clear-water river in a pristine wilderness setting of spectacular beauty
The Clearwater has served human communities since the pre-contact indigenous cultures of 6,000 years ago. Contact between First Nations and Europeans first occurred in the 18th century, following Peter Pond’s use of the 19 km Methye Portage in 1778. A national historic site plaque commemorates the significance of the portage, which was an overland link on the Churchill-Clearwater-Athabasca route between Lac La Loche and the Clearwater, and was used to avoid the Clearwater’s difficult Precambrian upper section.
The river has a rich history serving as a hub of activity as boats and trawlers carried goods and passengers back and forth to ports north and south of Fort McMurray.
With further influence of the area’s colourful history, Prairie Loop follows the rail line originally built in 1942 by the U.S. Military. It also served as a key transportation route for settlers and merchants. The rail line was linked to the shipyard that stood next to The River Station that has since been restored thanks to the Fort McMurray Heritage Society to house Marine Park.
More About LIAM
William is a name that comes with plenty of options. Will, Bill, Billy, Willie, Wullie. There’s the Welsh Gwilym, even Will.i.am. In 1979, when Bill de Silva took the Irish form of his name as his company brand it was a reminder to him of what was important. His father was also named William, as was his son. Bill wanted to build a company he would be happy to have his name attached to, and over the 35 years he has been in business, he has done so.
Most of their work has been in Fort McMurray. Through the years the company has branched out into property rental and management as well as the hospitality business, but the heart of the company is construction. They have grown with the community they have been building since 1979 and a glance at their history shows how their growth is also the growth of Fort McMurray. Liam has built nearly everything; homes, townhomes, apartment buildings, schools and commercial properties. In a way, they’re also responsible for the safety of the community as they have built for the hospital and the RCMP. And the best part is, like the Mounties, you know they’ll be here if you need them.
A sawmill in the 1920’s.
Prairie Shipyards during the Canol project, 1942-44.
George Golosky’s sawmill at the Prairie, 1920’s. Photos courtesy of Fort McMurray Historical Society.