Civitas and Stantec win Back to the River competition

Screen Shot 2015-11-10 at 3.42.52 PMCivitas and Stantec were recently announced as the winners of Back to the River, a design competition to reimagine the Thames River in London, Ontario.

Spearheaded by London Community Foundation in partnership with the City of London and Upper Thames River Conservation Authority, the Back to the River design competition challenged five finalists to develop visionary designs that will help the community reimagine its relationship with the river.

The proposal includes a bridge that activates a central park area in London, Ontario.
The proposal includes a new bridge that activates a central park area in London, Ontario.

The project challenged teams to present designs that would strike a balance between environmental sustainability, economic development and community/recreational space. The finalists’ submissions were evaluated by the jury on the following criteria:

  1. Compliance with all submission requirements
  2. Attendance at all required events
  3. Innovative and Imaginative: A creative overall design for the River that integrates its recreational and environmental potential at all three scales of inquiry, and enhances its natural beauty
  4. Design quality and integration: Design strength demonstrated in the details of proposed spaces, features, and inaugural projects
  5. Practical: Achievable, phaseable design proposals, aligned with approved plans and strategies that build on existing initiatives and respect environmental, ownership, regulatory, and other constraints
  6. Social and Environmental Benefits: Design proposals that increase accessibility and activity, improve the environment, and offer opportunities for community and donor sponsorship
  7. Downtown and Economic Regeneration: Design proposals that assist with the revitalization of the downtown and the city’s overall economic improvement
Working with natural processes, the proposal reconnects an old oxbow to the main river.
Working with natural processes, the proposal reconnects an old oxbow to the main river.

Martha Powell, President & CEO, London Community Foundation says the project was initiated by the Foundation as part of its community mobilization strategy. “We wanted something that would unite our community around a common cause, something that everyone could take pride in,” says Powell. Because of its significance to London, we knew revitalizing the Thames River could have a great impact on our community. I am thrilled with how engaged the community is with this project.”

“Today is an exciting day as we celebrate what the future of the Thames will be and how Londoners will re-engage with our river and each other,” said Mayor Matt Brown. “Let’s join together as we embark on our journey back to the river.”

“We’re incredibly luck to have access to the Thames River in the heart of our city, in our downtown,” said Councillor Stephen Turner. “I can already envision Londoners taking advantage of the revitalized riverfront thanks to Back to the River.”

Civitas & Stantec will be awarded a design contract with the City of London for at least $200,000 for an inaugural project at the Forks of the Thames. An inaugural project for the SoHo neighbourhood may be the subject of a future competitive contract once capital funding has been secured. London Community Foundation is enthusiastic about moving this project forward.

For more information and to see the winning entry, visit