In response to the popularity of Accidental Beach, a large stretch of sand that appeared in Edmonton’s river valley last year, the city is considering constructing a permanent beach in one of several possible areas in the river valley.
“A large number of beach visitors demonstrated that a more permanent natural beach could be a welcome attraction for many,” reads a report headed to executive committee for discussion next week. “Administration recognizes the value of easy, year-round access for people to one of the city’s greatest assets: the North Saskatchewan River.”
The report was released Thursday as part of the executive committee’s agenda for May 23. It outlines the potential problems that would stop the project from going forward. One such issue is the concerns of residents living near the proposed locations.
Another problem is the high level of bacteria that can be found in the river’s waters. E. coli especially could raise serious health concerns for summertime swimmers.
Because of the various concerns, including safety, city administrators said ideally, the city shouldn’t be working to make a beach along the river more tempting for Edmontonians. However, the report acknowledged that many Edmontonians are likely to go to the beach (if there is one) anyway and on a practical level the city needs to address the issues that come with that.
Spots being eyed for beach construction are at Big Island, Terwillegar Park, Cloverdale Beach (which most Edmontonians refer to as Accidental Beach), Fort Edmonton Footbridge, Rundle Park and Capilano Bridge. Of these, Cloverdale Beach was picked out as the most viable spot because of how large and accessible it is for people.
Watch below: City councillors will soon debate whether to make Accidential Beach permanent. But, as Fletcher Kent reports, this isn’t the first time the city has tried building a beach.
Last year, Cloverdale residents voiced concerns over garbage piling up, excessive noise from beachgoers and a lack of parking because of so many people flocking to the beach.
Among the ideas city administrators are suggesting could help to alleviate those concerns are having a shuttle bus bring beachgoers from RE/MAX Field to the beach over a three-week span between mid-August and mid-September. The cost of running it for that time is estimated at $38,000. City planners are also suggesting councillors consider barring non-residents from parking in front of homes in Cloverdale and asking beachgoers who drive to Accidental Beach to park along nearby green spaces like Gallagher Park.
“I love it, I think it’s a cute idea,” Marlan Neveu, who lives in Cloverdale, said of the prospect of the city getting a permanent beach. “Where in Edmonton do we have a beach?
Accidental Beach began to appear on the North Saskatchewan River last spring. Construction work on the future Tawatina LRT bridge saw crews put temporary rock berms into the river to allow them to work. Sand and silt gathered just downstream and built up as the summer went on.
The beach became so popular, Google Maps even marked Accidental Beach on its Edmonton map and a local entrepreneur began selling their own line of Accidental Beach apparel.
A sandbank has begun to emerge from the river water already where Accidental Beach was last summer. However, the beach isn’t expected to fully materialize until August, when the water levels decrease further.
Watch below: On May 4, 2018, Fletcher Kent filed this report on Edmonton’s so-called Accidental Beach beginning to emerge along the North Sasaktchewan River.
“Lots of people like it,” Peter Chung, who lives in Cloverdale, said of Accidental Beach.
“I went out one time and laid down to sun-tan. It’s unbelievable,” he said while acknowledging it got very crowded.
“It didn’t impact us a whole lot but we were wondering, if it keeps up, with parking,” Neveu said. “It stands to reason people need a place to park and I guess we’re the closest vicinity.”
Other area residents who wouldn’t provide their names told Global News on Thursday that they hope the city does not create a permanent beach in Cloverdale.
Watch below: On Nov. 29, 2017, Kendra Slugoski filed this report about the city looking at ways to make Edmonton’s Accidental Beach permanent or at the very least, find a different spot along the river to enjoy.
City council asked city administrators last November to look at the prospect of creating a more permanent beach in Edmonton. If councillors approve the creation of a more permanent beach, administrators believe the project wouldn’t be completed for several years.
The city has said it may deploy more peace officers, garbages, portable toilets and bike racks to Accidental Beach this summer because of how many people used it last year.
-With files from Global News’ Sarah Kraus