Exciting plans to reimagine the River Foyle have received a ringing endorsement from civic leaders after the £25m ‘Our Future Foyle’ project was officially launched at the Guildhall yesterday.
The innovative cultural and health intervention is designed to improve the health and well-being of people using the riverfront “through the rejuvenation and animation of the banks and bridges as a shared positive space”.
The Mayor of Derry City and Strabane District Council, John Boyle, said it was time to reclaim the river and open another positive chapter in the waterway’s history.
“The idea is, I suppose, to present a new vision and a new future for the river,” said the Mayor.
“Our river has been very significant to the development of this city over many centuries from the very first Columban missionaries who left these shores to bring their particular message, a positive message, to other nations, very specifically our near neighbours in Scotland. So, from there, we begin a story, we begin a positive story for our river,” he remarked.
The Mayor said the joint Public Health Agency, City Centre Initiative and Helen Hamlyn Centre for Design proposals were all about looking at the river in a different way.
“Primarily, what we are trying to do is to reimagine the river, to look at our river and, indeed, its banks in a more positive way. For many years, I think, as a city we turned away from the river and everything turned its back towards the river,” he said.
Sinn Féin MP for Foyle Elisha McCallion said it was a “ground-breaking initiative” with the potential “to transform lives as well as the waterfront”.
“It is an extremely exciting venture that the whole city and region should unite behind to help make it a reality. I see it is an opportunity to bring the riverfront to life in a way that not only helps to attract tourists but also provides real economic and social benefits to the people who live here,” she said.
The Mayor acknowledged ‘Our Future Foyle’ was only one piece of the jigsaw required to improve mental health outcomes in Derry.
“This has to be part of a holistic approach that will tackle many of those issues.”