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Expect Accidental Beach to look different after its first winter, water monitor says
A water expert who monitors the North Saskatchewan River said what Edmonton’s Accidental Beach will look like when the ice melts is anyone’s guess.

The beach, which formed downstream from a construction berm last spring and captivated Edmontonians last summer, is beneath a layer of snow and ice for the first time in its brief existence. Parts of the beach appeared to be submerged in the icy river earlier this month.

Hans Asfeldt, manager of water literacy with North Saskatchewan Riverkeeper, said Friday the beach won’t undergo many changes during the winter.

“What’s really going to be important is the spring freshet,” he said, referring to the peak flows that accompany the snow melt.

“It’s going to be very interesting to see what that does to the beach as water levels lower into the summer months.”

Accidental Beach formed off a riverbank in Edmonton’s Cloverdale neighbourhood this past spring, thanks to a berm built for the Tawatina LRT bridge. The berm slowed the silty river during the high spring flows, allowing sand to accumulate downstream in the North Saskatchewan River.

Water levels tend to be lower during the winter, Asfeldt said. Releases from the Bighorn Dam near Nordegg keep the river artificially high during the winter months to maintain electricity production.
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

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.

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.

“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.

Paula Simons: Fake 'sand experience' no substitute for sweet, wild Accidental Beach
It appeared at the end of an Edmonton summer like a mirage, an accidental beach in the heart of the city. And for a few sweet weeks,we flocked there with our kids and our dogs and our picnic hampers and our volleyballs, to paddle and swim and play in the sand.

And then the snow fell, the ice formed and our beach vanished, leaving us to wonder if it would ever return.

Could it be more than an ephemeral marvel? Could we make it last?

That was Ward 8 Coun. Ben Henderson’s question, too.

Back in August, while the rest of us were wading, Henderson asked city staff to research and report on what it would take to keep the beach, even after the bridge construction which caused it to form, serendipitously, is complete.

The report will be discussed at city council’s urban planning committee meeting Nov. 29.

It makes for gloomy reading for beach fans.

Keeping a beach in Cloverdale, perhaps by leaving the construction berms in place, says the report, would require a comprehensive planning and environmental review, involving the city, the province and Ottawa.

The city has no jurisdiction over the riverbank or the river. The beach isn’t city property. While the city owns the parkland above the river, the province owns the shoreline. Transport Canada and the federal Department of Fisheries and Ocean are responsible for the water. So anything done to make the beach permanent would need provincial and federal regulatory approval. (According to Alberta Environment, the city would also need to apply to lease the land, under both the Public Lands Act and the Water Act.)

The city estimates all that regulatory argy-bargy could take four years to complete — including technical reports, feasibility studies, community engagement and Indigenous consultation. The city would also need to consider water quality, water safety and the inconvenience to the Cloverdale residents. (Although Alberta Environment, for its part, says its approval process would take only six to 12 months.)
I would assume they did, but it seems like they can do more with their rivers than we can do with ours. Calgary is literally turning their rivers into playgrounds while Edmonton can't even get a beach built.
@itom987 I just did a quick bit of searching, it looks like the North Sask falls under the federal Navigable Waters Act, which I think adds a lot of scrutiny to projects affecting it.

The Bow also falls under the act, however the Elbow does not.
@itom987 Dave just answered your question... Calgary has trouble with their main river too, and that picture you posted is of the Elbow river which is much much smaller and less significant. I'd personally compare it to Whitemud Creek, in which the city probably wouldn't have as much trouble either with doing projects in.
I think we do have some great natural spaces and beaches on the river. there's natural sand bars and beaches near Fort Edmonton Park, Terwillegar, Under the Walterdale Bridge, and Accidental Beach. There's smaller sand areas everywhere. Honestly my favourites are by Oleskiw and under the walterdale, I saw people suntanning and swimming there all summer.
One thing to remember about this is the North Saskatchewan is a much bigger river than either the Bow or the Elbow. the North Saskatchewan carries 4x as much water as the Bow at times, and is very prone to water levels rising and falling. In late May this year, for example, summer rains raised the water level to 8m, as opposed to the 3.5-4m it normally runs at at that time of year. We didn't have dramatic flooding, it was the second time in a decade the river had been that high. that 4+m rise we saw this year is not unusual for us; but it was also about the same as the 1-100 year flood Calgary had in 2013. The two rivers are differnent in character, with the Bow being much smaller, and the North Saskatchewan being capable of much more dramatic height changes. Needless to say, a level change like the 4m we saw this year that would sweep away any man-made beach we build. (and it kind of did, all the sandbars i mentioned disappeared, obviously, and even accidental beach was heavily altered).
I mean, it would be nice to have a permanent beach or similar. but the river would sweep away anything we put there in fairly short order. i think it's beautiful that we can leave the river to it's own devices and it creates places like the beach at the Walterdale.
Chadillaccc;9145800 said:
Two surfing projects in the Calgary Metropolitan Area have been partially funded, and it looks like the one in downtown Calgary will be under construction this year or next. The city is starting construction on the "wave deck" (surfing observation area) beginning in the spring.

Downtown Calgary River Wave Park

2020 plan


Concept from 2018


Cochrane River Wave Park


East Eau Claire Park, Eau Claire Plaza, and East Downtown Core Flood Protection








The argument about the Bow river being under the Navigable Waters Act went up in smoke.
Quite frankly, I would be shocked if none of you were not pissed off by this.