Assessment study cites Riverbank’s Back to the River master plan as a ‘hero’ asset for area
The continued development of the Riverbank is a huge opportunity for Brandon when it comes to increasing visitation to the city, according to an area assessment recommendation from Travel Manitoba and its partners.
The assessment, which was conducted by consultants Probe Research Inc. and Sinclair Barnes Limited, notes that although the Riverbank is mostly still a local attraction, it does draw visitors from nearby towns and further afield – and that there’s a huge opportunity to build winter attractions that could theoretically really boost visitation to the area.
The analysis was based off interviews, site visits as well as desk and market research and it mentions the Back to the River master plan as an ambitious and creative plan to create a recreational destination for both locals and tourists.
Among the potential winter attractions noted include winter river trail development for skating, skiing, fat biking and more similar to Winnipeg’s Nestaweya River Trail but still authentic to Brandon, along with warming huts, ice sculptures, art installations, pop-up attractions such as a winter version of Food Truck Warz, a notable summer event in the city, and music events.
“The Destination Area Assessment is really exciting, as it aligns with many things that I would like to see for the Riverbank and the river corridor,” said Dean Hammond, executive director for Brandon Riverbank Inc. “If we can make all of the stars align, I would love to have a winter trail network in place for the winter of 2023/2024. The vision is to have a combination of specific and multi-use trails that can be used by walkers, cross-country skiers, fat bikers, and/or snowshoers. Riverbank is very busy in the summer months, but one of our goals is to add more winter amenities for the benefit of both local and regional visitors.”
The development of winter attractions will tie in well with what’s already been developed during the summer months. The Assiniboine Cove, a fully accessible kayak and canoe dock to the south of the Riverbank Discovery Centre provides canoe/kayak rent access, while enhanced wetlands provide opportunities for students and visitors to get up close with a variety of plants and animals that call Riverbank home.
Meanwhile, the All Nations Sharing Circle, developed by Indigenous residents in the area, offer participants the opportunity to speak and be heard – and is part of the city’s strategy to dedicate more public space to Indigenous culture.
The continued development of the Riverbank helps update Brandon’s image, shifting internal and external views of Brandon as “not a tourist destination” to a “must visit,” states the assessment.
“The Riverbank is an amazing place with unlimited potential,” Hammond added. “Our goal is to continuously work on the Back to the River master plan and other initiatives that make Riverbank an accessible, iconic, and cool outdoor space where people want to be.”
You can view the Destination Area Assessment here.