'There's nobody out here': New camping company taking Edmontonians outside the city
An Edmontonian has come up with an outdoor glamping experience less than an hour away from the city.
Steve Capp's Urban River Adventures set up domes and tents along the islands of the North Saskatchewan River after receiving approval from the Alberta government.
The island getaway has been up and running for about a month now, and while it’s been well received by the public with daily guests, Capp said a lot of leg work has gone into making the venture come to fruition.
“It was no easy task,” he said.
“I worked on this all winter, building the website, getting the sales together. Once we got in the water, first of all the boat launches weren't open… We had to transfer all of this gear from a more remote boat launch.”
Capp told CTV News Edmonton he wants people to explore the province's backyard.
“We’re sitting on a city of a million people, and I’ve been out to these areas and there’s nobody out here.”
A camper on the island told CTV News he and his family loved that it still felt like you’re in the wilderness yet “fairly central to Edmonton.”
“It’s a good use of the land, and if you’re going to be in Canada, you may as well take advantage of the outdoors,” Neil Treadway said.
'IT STRENGTHENS OUR UNDERSTANDING AS A COMMUNITY'
Capp created Urban River Adventures after the pandemic forced his event business closed.
“I got creative and thought we have to create something that gets people outdoors and is still COVID friendly and local.”
While the passion project has been months in the making, he didn’t take it all on alone. A friend of 20 years-turned-colleague got involved to ensure there was an education and safety element as well.
“It’s super important to me that we do land acknowledgement,” Jaret Sinclair-Gibson, Indigenous relations and safety for Urban River Adventures, said.
“We are really trying to make sure we keep this island and the river valley looking pristine and beautiful.”
In order to maintain the integrity of the land, the group is following the "leave no trace" principles. Capp said this includes removing all waste, leaving the vegetation as is, and in general avoiding all disruptions that would leave a footprint.
“The leave no trace program falls into why the land acknowledgment is important,” Sinclair-Gibson explained. “It strengthens our understanding as a community why my family, and my community has been connected to this land forever.”
“People don’t respect what they don’t know,” he added. “So if we take time and go into the bush and have fun, we can really help do teaching and learning around that and really connect people to this."
'WE HAVE PEOPLE WHO HAVE NEVER CAMPED IN THEIR LIFE'
A night on the island will run you $250. This includes all the camping comforts required plus a unique activity for friends and family to do together.
Once you’re on the island, Capp said there’s a variety of activities including gold panning, fishing, paddle boards, kayaks and tubing down the river from Devon.
As for food, Urban River Adventures has partnered with Drift Food Truck. They offer campfire cooking packages and everything comes pre-portioned and ready to go.
Credit: Urban River Adventures
While this is a destination experience for locals, Capp wants patrons to know this is not a luxury resort.
“Make sure you know what you’re coming out to see,” he said.
“We have people who have never camped in their life coming here, and having a good time, and showing us this is exactly why we put it together to give them that experience, give people a connection,” Sinclair-Gibson added.
As for future plans, Capp said the business is looking into winter getaways. If it doesn’t come together this year, he said they’ll tear down and set up again in the spring. But, the big goal is to take the concept international.
“I would really love to turn this into something that creates international attention, and brings people from all over the world,” he said.
Accommodations are booked solid until September.
With files from CTV News Edmonton’s Touria Izri