The winning design for the 'Back to the River' competition was revealed in London Monday morning

U.S.-based architectural landscape firm Civitas and local engineering consultants Stantec won the contest with their joint 'Ribbon of the Thames' design.

Mark Johnson of Civitas says, "These competitions are difficult, expensive, take a lot of time. And we want to make sure that we spend that time and our creative energy where it might make a difference. So, we were tremendously attracted to this and it looks like it's going to be a great success."

The plan focuses on SoHo and the Forks of the Thames and includes an open plaza for events, a new pedestrian bridge and pathways, scenic outlooks and a performing arts centre.

The competition was spearheaded by the 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 would help the community re-imagine its relationship with the river.

Martha Powell, president and CEO of the London Community Foundation, says the project was initiated by the foundation as part of its community mobilization strategy.

She cites a similar initiative in Pittsburgh, saying, "They've done a study that shows that for every dollar invested in the river revitalization they've had a $30 spin-off. So there is economic benefit to do it."

The big question now, is whether the ideas can be put into action, especially with an estimated price tag of over $8 million.

London Mayor Matt Brown says, "This is a plan we don't want to see staying on a shelf. From my perspective this is a plan that we need to make a priority. We'll be formally having those discussions as a council. And from my perspective I hope to forward this to our multi-year budget so we can identify framework as quickly as possible."

Powell adds that the London Community Foundation is ready to put money toward design development for SoHo.

There is currently no money budgeted to implement the plan, but Johnson will return to London at the end of November to pitch the plan directly to city council.

As part of the competition, Civitas & Stantec will be awarded a design contract with the city 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.