River Landing Riverfront Master Plan

Saskatoon, Saskatchewan

Photo Credit: Crosby Hanna & Associates

See photos for further references 


Research by: Nicole Brekelmans

Edited by: Samantha Miller

Case study compiled in​ 2019

Project: River Landing Riverfront Master Plan 

Type of Urban Strategy: Water 

Type of ProjectUrban Riverfront Renewal 

LocationSaskatoon, Saskatchewan

Date Designed/Planned: 2003

Construction Completed2013

Designer: Crosby Hanna & Associates 


The River Landing Riverfront Master Plan by Crosby Hanna & Associates provides a framework for the Saskatoon waterfront to use the space to its full potential. The Saskatoon riverfront has been a major node for the city since settlements in the area were first established. The access to the water provides the city with multiple economic, social, and design opportunities, along with providing a rich historic past. However, until the Master Plan was implemented, the waterfront was underutilized due to previous poor planning and design. The Riverfront Plan was used to transform the waterfront space into a cultural hub within the city, while also providing a safe and comfortable space for locals and visitors. Elements such as a Riverwalk promenade, amphitheatre, water play areas, river garden, linking rails, and a food service pavilion provide a wide range of activities while still emphasizing the heritage and history of the River Landing. 

(Crosby Hanna & Associates, n.d.)


The River Landing Riverfront Master Plan by Crosby Hanna & Associates redevelops the Saskatoon waterfront into a space for recreation, education, and heritage. Since 1979, the Saskatoon riverfront property has been under debate, therefore creating multiple discussions, ideas, and plans for the redevelopment of the area. Containing a rich history and culture, the riverfront and River Landing demanded a holistic, yet detailed plan to maintain and highlight the important heritage the landing and riverfront hold. The Riverfront Master Plan provided a framework for the area to be transformed into an exciting, safe, and comfortable space for locals and visitors. Construction was split up into 2 phases, with phase 1 starting in 2004, and phase 2 beginning in 2006 and ending in 2013. Elements such as a Riverwalk promenade, amphitheatre, water play areas, river garden, linking rails, and a food service pavilion provide a wide range of activities while still emphasizing the heritage and history of the River Landing.

(Crosby Hanna & Associates, n.d.)


Saskatoon River Landing is a redevelopment district in downtown Saskatoon running along the bank of the South Saskatchewan River. The site has a rich history, leaving behind artifacts and landmarks that have the opportunity to be highlighted through the Riverfront Master Plan. With the two main elements being the downtown area and the river, the initial site was disconnected and unbalanced. However, the river still had potential by offering space for recreation and economic opportunities. The site access is mainly from the north, with direct vehicular access to the boat launch west of the Buckwold Bridge.

(Aldrichpears Associates, 2005)


The Saskatoon River Landing and Riverfront has played a key role in the city’s history and establishment. Before 1905 the Riverbanks were resting stops of wildlife and hunters, and later became the site for a tent city that was established on the side of the river. In the 1910s to 1940s the riverbanks provided space for a growing town, that was gaining momentum from retail buildings, housing, and other areas being constructed along the river. As the city continued to grow, some remnants from the early town along the riverfront remained while others were demolished on replaced.

The Riverfront property has been the subject of interest, scrutiny, and debate since 1979. Multiple riverfront restoration plans were offered and suggested to the city of Saskatoon, however, it was not until 2003 that a long-term master plan was chosen and funded.

This master plan involved the whole River Landing and was later broken up in three main areas, Market Walk, Cultural District, and River Front, each with corresponding Master Plans and design teams.

(Aldrichpears Associates, 2005)


The main objective for the River Landing and Riverfront Master Plan was to create a premier destination in the South Downtown for the residents and visitors of Saskatoon to experience and enjoy. Two main goals were used to direct the Riverfront Master Plan:

  1. Provide sense of place
  2. Make connections to the city and region

(Aldrichpears Associates, 2005)


The Riverfront Master Plan was derived from a larger master plan for the Saskatoon River Landing, which included a Market Walk, Cultural District, and Riverfront Redevelopment. In 2003, the Riverfront Master Plan was initiated by a Landscape Architecture firm Crosby Hanna & Associates. There were several tasks used by the firm to develop the plan and design such as the initial gathering of materials and research, touring the site, visioning workshops, presentations, and interviews. The plan focused on a holistic and long-term plan while adhering to the recommendations of landowners, tenants, and government officials.

Construction began in 2004, focusing on the rough landscape and hard edges in the beginning. The construction process was split up into 2 phases. Phase 1 focused on the Riverwalk promenade with a pedestrian bridge, the amphitheatre, interpretive water play space, food service pavilion, fire pit, river garden, and connective pathways. In 2006 phase 2 was initiated and involved creating linkages along the shore to connect adjacent spaces, remediate the brownfield site, reuse of the abandoned pumphouse, and create a bridge promenade and outdoor fitness area.

(Aldrichpears Associates, 2005)


The role of the firm Crosby Hanna & Associates was to create a Master Plan for the Riverfront while implementing the main goals and objectives from the River Landing Master Plan such as creating cultural connections, a place for people, celebrating the past, and celebrate the nature of the river. Along with this, the designers lead focus groups, interviews, and presentations to understand the needs of the current tenants and locals of Saskatoon, which was used to create hierarchy and prioritization of elements within the plan. Crosby Hanna & Associates were the prime consulting role responsible for all consultant coordination, project approvals and budget control during the construction process.

(Crosby Hanna & Associates, n.d.)


Aldrichpears Associates. (2005, April 14). River Landing Interpretive Plan(Rep.). Retrieved June 7, 2019, from City of Saskatoon website: http://www.riverlanding.ca/reports_public_input/reports/interpretive_plan/interpretive_plan.pdf

Project Update. (2014, March 13). Retrieved June 7, 2019, from http://www.riverlanding.ca/project_update/phase1/riverfront/index.html

River Landing Riverfront | Crosby Hanna & Associates - Landscape Architecture & Community Planning Consultants Saskatchewan. (n.d.). Retrieved June 7, 2019, from http://crosbyhanna.ca/project/river-landing-riverfront/


The Riverfront project was very successful for the residents and visitors of Saskatoon, providing a framework for the city to enhance the River Landing’s recreational and historical potentials. Along with the public’s reaction and use of the space, the Master Plan has also received multiple design awards such as the National Urban design award of merit 2008, the Design Council of Saskatchewan Premier’s Award of Excellence 2011 & 2007, and the CSLA Prairie Region Merit Award 2008.

(Crosby Hanna & Associates, n.d.)


Due to the site’s rich history and culture the Riverfront Master Plan needs to highlight these aspects throughout the design in a thoughtful and careful way. This makes the main challenge of the Riverfront design to convey meaningful stories in an appropriate manner where it makes sense to do so. Along with this challenge, the project also addressed the issue of limitations through cold winter weather. This made it so the elements of the interpretive centre needed to be inside rather than partially featured outside due to the snow and cold temperatures, as well as a higher risk of vandalism.

(Aldrichpears Associates, 2005)


The Riverfront Master Plan include multiple programming and diverse functions throughout to allow for a variety of events and activities to take place:

- River walk - River viewing areas (river as a stage) - Pedestrian bridge - Boat docks - Pavilion - Children’s water play area - Amphitheatres - River tributary and garden

(Aldrichpears Associates, 2005)


The funding for the project was provided by all three levels of government throughout the process and construction. In 2003, the Provincial government of Saskatchewan provided the project with $4 million. Later in 2006, the Government of Canada provided $3 million while the City of Saskatoon funded the project with $2.76 million, creating a total fund of $9.76 million for the Riverfront Master Plan.

(Riverlanding, 2014)