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Edmonton’s Accidental Beach making a comeback

Accidental Beach appears on North Saskatchewan River again
WATCH ABOVE: Edmonton's most welcome surprise is back for another year. The so-called Accidental Beach survived the spring runoff and is now beginning to appear. Fletcher Kent reports.

It’s baaaaack! (Sort of).

Over the past couple of weeks, a sandbar has begun to emerge at Edmonton’s Accidental Beach.

“You can see the sand and the rocks,” said Ali Akbar Ali, who lives in the area.

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Last spring, the beach on the south side of the North Saskatchewan River appeared by fluke, thanks to temporary berms that were placed in the water as part of ongoing LRT construction.

READ MORE: New downtown beach surprises and excites Edmontonians

As fall turned into winter, the sandy retreat was covered by rising water levels and ice. But over the past few weeks, what’s been described by some as a gem in Edmonton’s river valley has started to make a comeback, just in time for summer.

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Scroll through the gallery below to see the progress of the sandbar emerging at Accidental Beach

Accidental Beach as the ice melts on the North Saskatchewan River April 20, 2018.
Accidental Beach as the ice melts on the North Saskatchewan River April 20, 2018. Global News
Accidental Beach on on the North Saskatchewan River April 29, 2018.
Accidental Beach on on the North Saskatchewan River April 29, 2018. Global News
A sandbar emerges at Accidental Beach Friday, May 4, 2018.
A sandbar emerges at Accidental Beach Friday, May 4, 2018. Morris Gamblin, Global News
A sandbar emerges at Accidental Beach Friday, May 4, 2018.
A sandbar emerges at Accidental Beach Friday, May 4, 2018. Morris Gamblin, Global News
A sandbar emerges at Accidental Beach Friday, May 4, 2018.
A sandbar emerges at Accidental Beach Friday, May 4, 2018. Fletcher Kent, Global News
Accidental Beach begins to emerge from the North Saskatchewan River Friday, May 4, 2018.
Accidental Beach begins to emerge from the North Saskatchewan River Friday, May 4, 2018. Global News
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Accidental Beach begins to emerge from the North Saskatchewan River Friday, May 4, 2018.
Accidental Beach begins to emerge from the North Saskatchewan River Friday, May 4, 2018. Global News

Even in the few hours Global News spent at the beach on Friday afternoon, the water made a noticeable drop, revealing more of the sandy beach oasis.

“I was just there the other day to see if it was coming back,” said Karen Stevenson, who is excited to see the attraction return.

“The beach was fun last year to come down and see all the people. It really was something special.”

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READ MORE: Edmonton looking at ways to mitigate ‘nuisances and risks’ at Accidental Beach

The beach was wildly popular last summer. But with the crowds came issues, including increased garbage and traffic. Late-night noise, tipped porta-potties and even bags of human excrement were some of the other concerns raised by area residents.

“It’s a good idea, the beach being here, but at the same time we have to look at the traffic flow and the parking and that has become a little bit of a problem for the residents in the area,” Ali said. “It’s a nightmare.”

READ MORE: Edmonton’s Accidental Beach fails to meet water quality standards in latest Riverkeeper test

The city made efforts to keep the space enjoyable for everyone, including deploying peace officers to monitor the area, limiting parking on the nearby roads and adding additional garbage bins and porta-potties.

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While the beach will be back this summer, city administration has been tasked with looking into what it would take to keep the beach long-term. A report on the topic is set to be discussed at a city committee on May 24.

Back at the river’s edge, Stevenson is excited for the beach’s return, but she’s not quite ready to grab her bathing suit and sandals just yet.

“I wouldn’t come down yet,” she said with a laugh. “I would wait until it was all dry.”

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