Changes are coming for those who have discovered Edmonton’s new accidental beach, after questions were raised earlier this week about how to deal with the rush of visitors along the North Saskatchewan River.
Police, park rangers and animal control peace officers will monitor the new downtown beach, which appeared out of nowhere when construction crews building the Tawatina LRT bridge had to put temporary rock berms into the river. The berms changed the flow of the water, which naturally allowed sand to pile up, forming the beach earlier this spring.
Parking has been limited and 98A Avenue is now a one-way street for drivers, as a way to limit congestion for area residents. Additional garbage bins and two porta potties have also been set up.
“I think it’s just an unexpected result from the temporary beach. We’re asking people to be cognizant of the residents and also to adhere to any parking bans or restrictions,” Rhonda Norman with the City of Edmonton said.
“We’re not preventing access at this particular time, but we’re asking people to be extremely cautious about use of the area. It was never intended for a beach.”
The changes come after several complaints were raised, including concerns related to access to the site. Because it’s accidental, people have to traverse down steep and potentially dangerous trails to get to the river oasis. Several beachgoers also complained the area was dirty and that garbage may become an issue.
“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,” Councillor Ben Henderson added earlier this week.
On Tuesday, city administration was asked to compile a report on what’s needed to keep the beach, as well as keep it clean and safe. Staff will report back some time after the October election.
Keeping the beach isn’t as easy as it may sound and it isn’t solely up to City of Edmonton. Other orders of government play a big role in regulating waterways and recreational access.
Watch below: Ongoing coverage of Edmonton’s accidental beach