Edmontonians have a new way to access the city’s river valley from the downtown area.

The Mechanized River Valley Access, located on 100 Avenue near the Hotel Macdonald, opened on Saturday.

“The Mechanized River Valley Access creates a unique space from which to experience our beautiful River Valley and an opportunity for those of all abilities to access and enjoy our city’s greatest asset,” Mayor Don Iveson said.

The funicular is an elevator-type car that descends towards the river valley in less than a minute. It accommodates bikes, trailers, strollers, wheelchairs and mobility scooters. Passengers get off at a promenade with a grassy rest area, near the new pedestrian bridge overlooking the North Saskatchewan River.

From the lookout, there is an elevator to take people down to the river valley trails.

Iveson said the funicular will cost “a few hundred thousand dollars a year” to maintain.

“The city is very diligent about maintaining public assets like this, so I’m confident that the snow will be removed in a timely fashion and that the mechanism will be maintained in accordance with manufacturers’ specifications,” Iveson said. “We think it’s worth the cost from tourism and brand promotion point of view, from a health and wellness and recreation point of view, and because Edmontonians love their River Valley.”

The federal government contributed $8 million to the $24 million project. The rest of the money was funded by the province, the city and grants.

The funicular will run for free during regular park hours.

With files from Angela Jung