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RiverFest flows again after COVID delay

Eco-fest brings trees to Sturgeon safely
2209 Envirofile river fest CC 8907
FISHING FOR LITTER — Tristen Stoneman of St. Albert fishes out some trash from the Sturgeon River during the 2018 Clean and Green RiverFest. The annual river cleanup returns to St Albert for the first time in two years this Saturday. CHRIS COLBOURNE/St. Albert Gazette

The Sturgeon River will get an overdue spruce-up this weekend as the Clean and Green RiverFest returns for the first time in two years. 

Hundreds of physically-distanced residents are expected to drop by the Sturgeon River behind St. Albert Centre this Saturday for the 2021 Clean and Green RiverFest

RiverFest is a long-running eco-festival that asks volunteers to pick up trash and plant trees along the Sturgeon River to preserve its shores and waters.  

RiverFest usually happens in May, but was cancelled in May 2020 due to the first wave of the COVID-19 pandemic, said city parks operations supervisor Erin Pickard. It was delayed again this past spring due to the third wave of the pandemic.

Pickard said RiverFest is good-to-go despite the city being in the midst of the fourth wave of the pandemic as it is outdoors and involves limited close contact between people. Still, the city has asked participants to pre-register for the event so not everyone tries to plant trees at once.  

RiverFest volunteers will be issued gloves, bags, and a spot along the river to clean up this Saturday, Pickard said — though they are also welcome to clean up any other part of town if they like. Volunteers should stay out of the Sturgeon itself, notify city crews of any hazardous objects, and remain at least two metres apart from anyone outside their households. 

Pickard said it will be interesting to see what people find, as it had also been more than a year since the last RiverFest. Smaller clean-ups in the last year collected large numbers of disposable face masks. 

Volunteers will also help plant some 400 native trees and shrubs along the Sturgeon between the footbridge and Canadian Tire to enhance bird habitat.  

“Fall is actually a good time to put shrubs and trees into the ground,” Pickard said, as it is past the hot, dry summer months and gives trees enough time to set down roots.  

Volunteers at RiverFest will get a free packaged lunch from St. Albert Centre and be entered into a draw for a $150 gift card from Simplify Sustainable Living, Pickard said. They can also learn more about the environment at the scaled-back environment fair and toss sensitive documents into a paper-shredder truck.  

Riverfest takes place this Saturday, Sept. 25 from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. by the Sturgeon River behind St. Albert Centre. Visit for details.  

Kevin Ma

About the Author: Kevin Ma

Kevin Ma joined the St. Albert Gazette in 2006. He writes about Sturgeon County, education, the environment, agriculture, science and aboriginal affairs. He also contributes features, photographs and video.
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