The Grand Concourse is a walker's paradise -- an integrated, well planned walkway network spanning the metropolitan area of Newfoundland and Labrador's provincial capital, St. John's, and its neighbouring communities, Mount Pearl and Paradise.
Over 130 kilometres in length, the Grand Concourse links a series of rivers, lakes and ponds, parks and green spaces,
providing access to the beautiful natural features of the metro region. It is a result of imagination, planning, and hard work,
as well as significant funding. We nominate the Grand Concourse to receive CIP's Vision in Planning Award for 2011. It is an excellent example of planning in action – resulting in a system of walks that is widely known, well used, and valued by citizens and visitors.
In the late 1980s, local philanthropist Paul Johnson of Johnson Insurance put forward the idea of linking older paths into a
connected system and coined the term "Grand Concourse" to describe it. The idea ignited a lot of interest from the public,
from environmental and outdoor groups, Memorial University, the St. John's Port Authority, the three municipalities and the Province. The work was afoot. By 1993, the Grand Concourse Authority (www.grandconcourse.ca) was formed. The initial task was to plan the system, using landscape architects, planners, engineers, and an array of technicians, construction
supervisors and skilled workers. The Johnson Family Foundation funded a series of planning studies to investigate the potential of various ponds and rivers serving as a trail corridor connecting the three municipalities. Each study project looked at walkway routes, land ownership, adjacent land uses and potential conflicts, and created extensive maps and construction details for bridges, walkway surfaces, signage, parking areas, crosswalks and other matters.
The master plan for the Grand Concourse walkway system guided the development of a high-quality network extending from Signal Hill in the east, through the cities of St. John's and Mount Pearl, and to Octagon Pond in the Town of Paradise in the west. The walkways and sidewalkways in the plan would create a Walker's Paradise, providing a variety of outdoor experiences.