Photo courtesy of  London.ca  website

Photo courtesy of London.ca website

The Thames River is a staple feature of London’s landscape as it winds its way through the city, but despite being a prominent feature for the city, it sometimes feels like a hidden gem, having been overlooked and suffering years of pollution and neglect. The environmental concerns alone has gotten attention from residents and over the years, The Thames River Cleanup has become a routine event, encouraging public participation (yes, you can even count it towards community hours) to help collect garbage and debris from the river and banks. According to the Friends of the River website,  there were over 1500 volunteers who lent a hand and cleaned up 200 km of the Thames River last year alone.

It looks like the time has finally come to dust off this beauty and let it shine. Enter: “Back to the River,” a community initiative and design competition that’s getting national attention, on how the riverfront might be reimagined. The overall goal is to redevelop the River in a way that makes it an accessible way for the people of this city to enjoy. The entry deadline was June 3rd, 2015 and all submissions will be reviewed by a jury (made up of various city officials, academics and urban planners) to select 5 finalists who will then go head-to-head in a design competition to win the $100,000 prize.

Don’t worry, they’re also getting the public’s input, because what better way to come up with ways to improve the riverfront than to ask the community what they want? There are a series of community consultations and if you can’t make one of the meetings, you can complete a survey online. For more information and updates, head to the Back to the River website. In the meantime, whether you are packing a picnic, doing some fishing or hopping on your bike, heading to the Thames River is a great way to enjoy a piece of the beautiful nature that London, ON has to offer.

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