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City administration looking into what needs to be done to keep accidental beach

Initially, the new downtown beach on Edmonton's North Saskatchewan River prompted questions about how it got there in the first place. Now it's raising questions about how to deal with its growing number of visitors. Global News

Rules for Edmonton’s newly created beach seem in need of city help more than expected. The popularity of the beach has led many to beat a path to the shore, so Councillor Ben Henderson has asked city administration to look into what amenities are needed.

Last week Henderson signaled he’d ask about what would be needed to keep the beach, since other orders of government play a big role in regulating waterways and recreational access.

“The beach has already proved popular with the citizens of Edmonton, as a result putting pressure on the park area through traffic, parking and litter and noise,” Henderson said Tuesday, while tabling his inquiry.

READ MORE: Growing popularity of downtown Edmonton’s new ‘accidental’ beach raises questions

After getting a look at the beach from the top of the riverbank over the weekend, Henderson is amazed at how many people are taking it in. With more people utilizing the new feature, more problems have emerged.

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“There were litter problems,” he told reporters. “Unfortunately the parking lot that is usually there, which isn’t huge to begin with, is not there right now because of the LRT, so I think there’s parking issues. I understand people don’t really know where they’re going, so there were some traffic safety issues.

“I’m a little bit concerned that there’s some natural area in there that we’ve been trying to protect that it doesn’t get trashed. I think there’s some problems with late night use and noise.”

He’s worried the lawyers are going to have too much of a say in how things are run, if they’re run at all.

“Don’t blame the lawyers,” Henderson urged. “This is part of it. We live in a litigious age. Unfortunately when the city gets involved, and has deep pockets, our liabilities are problematic. It’s much easier for us to not to get engaged because then we don’t have to deal with those issues and I think those are some of the complexities. It’s not the city’s fault.”

READ MORE: Edmonton city councillor hoping to save surprise urban beach

City staff will compile a report on what’s needed to keep the beach, and keep the beach clean and safe, and will report back some time after October’s election.

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The berm that was installed for LRT construction changed the flow of the water, which naturally allowed sand to pile up forming the beach earlier this spring.

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