Report spells out the many hurdles facing Edmonton’s Accidental Beach

Edmontonians take advantage of "accidental beach" as the city breaks a temperature record Thursday, Sept. 7, 2017. Jesse Beyer, Global News

UPDATE: On Nov. 29, councillors passed two motions related to Accidental Beach. In the long-term, administration will consider if the beach is feasible and if there are any other possible locations for an urban beach. In the short-term, councillors asked administration to come up with a plan to mitigate nuisances and risks for the 2018 summer season (including improved bus service, late night restrictions, parking restrictions, traffic flow and temporary infrastructure).

The city intends on letting Accidental Beach stay next year, and even in 2019 if the conditions are right. That’s according to a report from the city that was released Thursday.

However, long term, it’s not even the city’s call to let this oasis with a skyline view stay. Environmental permits have to be granted by the federal government and the province.

On top of getting government approval, the city would have to get cooperation from Mother Nature as well.

Story continues below advertisement

Roger Jevne, the city’s branch manager for comunity rec facilities, said the natural water flow this year created the beach, even more so than the construction of the Valley Line LRT. That’s not normally the case.

Breaking news from Canada and around the world sent to your email, as it happens.

“I looked at some footage,” he said in an interview. “The river was raging in August of 2016 and that area was under several feet of water. It’s a combination of the berms of the bridge and the low water levels that kind of brought this beach to be last year.”

The amount of snow Edmonton gets this winter, and other environmental conditions in the spring, will dictate what possible beach-goers be looking at when beach weather rolls around in 2018.

Jevne said we had the complete opposite in 2016.

“We were actively putting up signs warning people to stay away from the river banks because the river was raging then. It was the timing of the melt and some heavy rains that had happened.”

“At one point I remember in 2016 where it rose dramatically overnight because of some heavy rains in the foothills, so there’s no guarantee that it’ll be there next year or the year after.”

Story continues below advertisement

The report that will be reviewed by council’s urban planning committee next week details the lengthy timeline to even get the other orders of government to buy in to the idea. The report said the timeline to complete all planning and design work and seeking provincial and federal regulatory approvals is estimated to be up to four years.

The plan is to repeat what was done over the summer, with temporary amenities put in. But Jevne said that’s it.

“Where it is there isn’t room to put change rooms in or a parking lot to deal with some of the concerns that we have. So we’re going to continue if the beach re-emerges next summer to do those things to help manage traffic and parking and garbage and bring in port-a-potties.

“We won’t be able to put in any kind of permanent infrastructure in with out going through the approval process with those other orders of government.”

By 2020 the story likely will be completely different.

“After the LRT construction, the bridge will be there and under our current environmental permits with the LRT those berms will have to come out.”

Story continues below advertisement

Jevne said they’ve had informal conversations with other government officials, but havn’t begun exploring any ways to make the beach something more than accidental.

Sponsored content