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Sep 22, 2015
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Popularity of Edmonton's 'accidental beach' stumps council
Edmonton’s "accidental beach" is drawing smiles and jeers from residents as city council tries to figure out what to do with it.

The sandy beach, created unintentionally on the North Saskatchewan River this summer by LRT construction, has been packed in recent weeks – but one councillor said its growing popularity is becoming a problem.

“I gather over the weekend it sort of got out of hand,” Coun. Ben Henderson said Monday.

“I’m getting complaints now from some people who live close by that there were lots of people down there and no place to park, and safety issues and noise and partying and things like that.”

Henderson will make an inquiry at Tuesday’s council meeting to learn more about the long-term implications of the beach, whether the city can keep it, and what that might cost.

Edmonton's "accidental" Cloverdale Beach.

Councillors have discussed the possibility of creating a beach for years, but now that one’s popped up near downtown without planning, it has brought up concerns around safety and liability.

“I don’t know how we respond to that, quite frankly,” Henderson said.

“We’ve never (created a beach) before because we didn’t think it was possible. We really needed something to occur naturally."

With no amenities on site, some residents have also complained about waste being left behind and people using the trails as washrooms.

Edmonton 'accidental beach' lacks facilities for deluge of sudden sunbathers

The beach is the unintentional product of construction of an LRT bridge and is expected to disappear when the construction is finished. (Nola Keeler/CBC)

Edmontonians are enjoying an unusual reprieve on the south side of the North Saskatchewan River in the final days of summer, but a local resident worries it's too much for the unintentional sandy oasis to handle.

Hundreds of people flocked to the "accidental beach" on the weekend, the unintentional byproduct of a changing current created by LRT bridge construction weirs.

Paul Bunner, a long-time resident of the adjacent Cloverdale community who is an advocate for river recreation, said he's never seen anything like it.

"It was wonderful to see people hanging on the beach — sunbathing, building sandcastles, splashing in the water, cooling off," Bunner said Monday. "Lots and lots of paddlers, kayaks and canoes, paddleboards — it really was an idyllic scene."

#yegbeach today +30c #SummerDayz #yeglife #chill#GottaKeepTheBeach @yegparks #yegvalley #yegriver#yegawesome

The barrage of beach-goers was also overwhelming for the nearby park area, designed to handle a few dozen people, Bunner said.

"When you get hundreds, if not thousands, it's pretty clear that basic infrastructure to serve that many people needs to be upgraded," he said.

Bunner wants the city to install portable toilets and more garbage cans for the rest of the season and next year, since the beach will likely still be there because of the LRT bridge construction work.

Growing popularity of downtown Edmonton’s new ‘accidental’ beach raises questions
I'm putting the bug in the ears of people on Twitter that if we want a permanent beach here, then it's prudent to look at improving 98 Avenue:
- Lower speed limit to 50kph
- Narrow lanes, widen sidewalks
- Allow off-peak parking, preferably paid

There's only a handful of retail along the avenue, and most of it is wasted on offices, not active retail uses. Making the area a bit more pedestrian-friendly in combination with having a permanent beach here could help make this a much more interesting neighbourhood.

As it is, the potential of the neighbourhood and the beach is completely wasted and constrained by keeping 98 Ave a pseudo-freeway for rush-hour commuters.
Need better routes to the beach as well aside from the Mountain Biker's precious single track. The "Birdhouse" Trail is basically a pain in ass to ride now, people flooding the trail, leaving bikes on the trail etc.

One person on the Edmonton mountain biking page on Facebook apparently asked someone to move the bikes that were on a blind corner and got the response "well the bikers should just slow down"

As for the making it permanent, I just don't see how that is going to work or be feasible... With how much the river rises in the spring I see the beach getting constantly washed out every spring or major storm events when the river comes up.
Actually, I think rising water levels will just deposit more silt/sand here. The trick is maintaining the rock berm that caused the beach to occur in the first place -- if that goes away, so does the beach and, if the river rises over the berm, away goes the beach. As it becomes more popular, the City will have to act. It's a good platform to run on for the race in the appropriate ward. Partial weirs are a good thing for a river in an urban area -- they create recreational areas and make the river more accessible.
Beach brings garbage: Neighbours wrestle with implications of the surprise downtown beach
A surprise downtown beach drew throngs of sun seekers on the weekend, but Edmonton officials now realize the noise and congestion will be challenging.

If the city installs garbage cans and a walkway to keep people from trampling the river banks, they risk making it an official beach and getting sued if someone gets injured.

But without those amenities, they risk creating a new “End of the World” situation — an off-limits space that attracts late-night partiers and conflict, said Coun. Ben Henderson, referring to an off-limits riverbank lookout that’s become the bane of Belgravia.

“As long as it’s accidental and people use it at their own risk, that’s fine,” said Henderson during a break in the council meeting Tuesday. “Once we go in there and start formalizing it, I’m guessing there’s some liability issues that begin to come up.”

'Probably not entirely safe': City to look into noise, safety issues of accidental beach

Edmonton's Accidental Beach.

A councillor has put forth an inquiry to administration to look into the best course of action to deal with Edmonton’s accidental beach.

Ward 8 Coun. Ben Henderson has put forward an inquiry for administration to examine what effects the beach is having on the surrounding area, and how issues around litter, noise and late night use can be addressed.

“The reality is it is an accidental beach. It’s probably not entirely safe to use,” Henderson said.

“We need to come up with answers without ruining the fun … But it’s not going to be a simple question and answer.”

The Cloverdale beach came to be as a result of LRT construction near the North Saskatchewan River, and attracted a steady stream of beachgoers over the weekend.

“My inquiry is about giving us a chance to explore it,” Henderson said. “And now, after the experience over the weekend where it sounds like it was just mobbed, actually looking at some of the short term implications and making sure we don’t do damage to the space.”

Mayor Don Iveson said the city's hands may be tied in regards to keeping the beach, because the river is under federal jurisdiction.

'Accidental beach' may continue after councillor asks city to research feasibility
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Edmonton’s accidental beach fails to meet water quality standards in latest Riverkeeper test

Edmontonians take advantage of "accidental beach" as the city breaks a temperature record Thursday, Sept. 7, 2017.
Edmonton’s newest attraction, dubbed the accidental beach in Cloverdale, has again received a failing grade for its water quality from the North Saskatchewan Riverkeeper.

The group has been testing the water for E. coli at sites along the river and posting the results online on the Swim Guide on a weekly basis.

The latest sample taken on Sept. 5 showed 746 colony-forming units (CFU) of E. coli per 100 millilitres of water at the Cloverdale Beach, earning the status “failed to meet water quality standards.” The status is issued when E. coli levels exceed Health Canada’s guidelines for recreational water quality, which is 200 CFU per 100 millilitres of water.

The sample taken on Aug. 28 also failed federal guidelines as it showed 238 CFU per 100 millilitres of water. However on Aug. 22, the water quality at the Cloverdale Beach earned a “green” rating of 123 CFU per 100 millilitres of water.

“Water quality in the North Saskatchewan River has improved drastically in recent decades, but there is still work to be done,” said Hans Asfeldt, with the North Saskatchewan Riverkeeper, in a news release Friday.
This kind of happened what I was away on vacation, so I missed some of the hoopla around it. However, my girlfriend was quick to point out that other beaches already exist further west and have existed for ages without much fanfare. Moreover, she also said they are accessible to surrounding populations. I get that this kind of came out of nowhere; however, I don't get why it got so much usage relative to the others. Guess the media picked it up and ran with it along with social media. Seems strange.

I do wonder if the hype will last through the upcoming winter? My guess is maybe, but my gut says that this is a fad regardless of whether it becomes permanent or not.
Beach business: Print shop selling out 'Accidental Beach' tank tops

Mark Wilson, partner at Vivid Print created the Accidental Beach Tanktop's which are selling like hotcakes.

The “Accidental Beach” has become an accidental marketing success for an Edmonton printing business.

When Whyte Avenue shop Vivid Print created a tank top with a colourful retro logo bearing the nickname of the beach that appeared on the North Saskatchewan River as a side effect of LRT construction, there was no intention to sell them to the masses.

“We did it as kind of an internal joke, really. We just made a really small run,” said Vivid business partner Mark Wilson. “But then people saw them and said, ‘Oh, can we get one?’ ”

Vivid owner Bee Waeland designed the logo, and the shop sold out the first run of men’s and women’s tanks. On Tuesday, it was nearing the end of its second run.

Wilson said the shop’s staff are all fans of the beach and the sense of community and responsibility that has developed around it.

“It’s celebrating something that I think has become close to the hearts of many Edmontonians,” he said.

Fish Griwkowsky and Amber Byrne enjoy Edmonton's "Accidental Beach" wearing tank tops from Vivid Print.

Wilson said every time he’s been to the beach, he’s seen a broad cross-section of Edmontonians enjoying it respectfully.

Wilson feels people have been proud of taking ownership of the sandy spot because it hasn’t been officially sanctioned.

“They’re not waving beer bottles around, they’re not getting out of control. People are playing music but it’s not blaring,” Wilson said.

“I think they’re trying to avoid what happened with the End of the World, where it’s become a nuisance for the neighbourhood.”
David Staples: The politics of making Accidental Beach permanent
By the accident of good timing, Accidental Beach is an election issue. The beach popped up at just the right time to coincide with the Oct. 16 vote.

Located in Cloverdale on a natural gravel spit on the river, the beach formed this past summer as an unintended consequence of the new Tawatina LRT bridge construction. Massive rock berms were built on either side of the river to allow for construction of the bridge’s two piers. These berms slowed the river, so it dropped its load of sandy silt on the spit.

There’s now hope the beach will be made permanent. Just maybe the city won’t follow the example of Saskatoon, where a much-loved sandbar beach appeared in 2012, only to be shut down by killjoys at city hall.

This election, numerous candidates are vowing to keep the beach, at least if parking, safety and environmental concerns can be addressed.

“I love it, I love it!” said communications strategist Sarah Hamilton, who is running in Ward 5 in the west end. “One of the planks of my campaign has been that we’re so close to the river but we have a very distant relationship with it … Accidental Beach is a kilometre of really nice beach. People want to spend time along the river, so let’s find out a way to make that happen.”

“It has the potential to be a real gem for our city,” said planning official Alison Poste, who is running in the northeast in Ward 4.

“I think I’d keep it, that’s for sure,” said engineer Hassan Haymour, another Ward 4 candidate. “Everyone is going there … You have a mini-vacation in Edmonton. It’s a wonderful thing.”

The future of the beach was front and centre at a Cloverdale forum on the future of the downtown river valley Wednesday night. Of course, not all candidates favour keeping the beach. Some point to safety concerns about swimming in the river, others to water pollution. Some bring up the issue of public parking and a lack of amenities in the area. But the majority of the several dozen candidates I’ve canvassed are intent on finding a way to keep the beach, as opposed to finding arguments to shut it down.
Petition to give Edmonton's Accidental Beach an Indigenous name gains momentum

Accidental Beach on a Monday afternoon. FISH GRIWKOWSKY / POSTMEDIA
The creators of a petition to give Edmonton’s Accidental Beach an Indigenous name argue doing so would be a meaningful step toward reconciliation.

Sameer Singh created the petition with the support of his friend and colleague Jodi Calahoo-Stonehouse, and the pair discussed it on Acimowin, her CJSR radio show, earlier this month.

As of Friday afternoon, the petition had 236 supporters.

After the municipal election and after they’ve discussed the idea with more people, Singh and Calahoo-Stonehouse plan to deliver the petition to city council and propose the creation of an elder and youth council. This council would be tasked with discussing the region’s local history and brainstorming possible names for the beach on the North Saskatchewan River.

“We want to do this with integrity, we want to meaningfully engage with Indigenous people — and with Edmontonians — and we want this to be a positive reflection of the truth and reconciliation (commission) calls to action,” Calahoo-Stonehouse said.

“We want to see things change in our city and this is one way that we can act on those calls.”


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