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Edmonton officials recommend against recreational activities on the North Saskatchewan River

Looking across the North Saskatchewan River at downtown Edmonton, Alta. Summer 2019.
Looking across the North Saskatchewan River at downtown Edmonton, Alta. Summer 2019. Dave Carels, Global News

Edmonton Fire Rescue’s chief of special operations is warning against people going on the North Saskatchewan River for recreational activities.

Bruce McWhinnie said the river level is over six metres with an unusually high flow rate.

“[On Friday] it’s at 1,200 cubic metres a second. It’s been as high as [1,900]. Typical for this time of year is 350 cubic metres a second, so we’re progressing up to six times of what would be deemed normal.”

Read more: Edmonton officials warn North Saskatchewan River is ‘unsafe’ after Sunday morning dog rescue

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He said it’s important to realize where there is water there is risk.

“The importance of safety on waterways, particularly the North Saskatchewan, cannot be understated.”

LISTEN BELOW: Bruce McWhinnie joins The Ryan Jespersen Show

That being said, McWhinnie said you are the best judge of your capabilities on the water.

“Really fully understand your limits, and make sure you know the consequence. What is the consequence if your day on the river goes bad?”

Read more: ‘Rapidly rising water levels’ prompt city to warn Edmontonians to stay away from North Saskatchewan River

If you do plan on hitting the water, he says to make sure you’ve planned your day.

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“Have you checked on river conditions and river flow rates through local platforms such as [Alberta River Basins]? Have you used your weather apps or your platforms for accessing your weather information? Have you check you checked the recent advisories through the city, some of our platforms like Facebook and Twitter?” he said.

“Have you checked in with Alberta Health Services? What is the water quality on the particular day you’re thinking of using the river?”

McWhinnie is also happy that Station 21 has now opened in the Rossdale area, 22 years after being shut down.

“Just that proximity to the boat ramp, the rapid launch and deployment, and getting upstream quickly to the person that requires the service has been really a benefit to everyone.”

The fire station opened in April.