Calgary's plan to enhance river access stymied by provincial permit holdups

Provincial delays are throwing cold water on the city's attempts to provide Calgarians with better access to the rivers.

Council set aside $1.7 million for 24 potential projects to improve public access to the rivers

The City of Calgary's strategy for improving access to the Bow River and Elbow River is being held up by permit application delays at the provincial level, officials say. (City of Calgary)

Provincial delays are throwing cold water on the city's attempts to provide Calgarians with better access to the rivers.

Work was supposed to be completed last year on several of the projects, including improved parking lots and adding more ramps for launching watercraft.

However, a backlog in processing permit applications to the provincial government under the Water Act has meant the city still lacks the approvals to do some of this work.

Last year, city council set aside $1.7 million for 24 potential projects to improve public access to Calgary's rivers, with trailer launches, hand launches and designated wading areas. Five were singled out as priorities:

  • Two additional ramps and a fishing pier at Scenic Bow Road N.W. under Stoney Trail N.W. (West Baker Park).
  • Stairs and a garbage receptacle along Memorial Drive at Third Street N.W. 
  • New boat ramps at the Inglewood Bridge at 12th Street S.E.
  • New boat ramps at Ogden Bridge at Deerfoot Trail.
  • Concrete blocks at the Graves Bridge at Heritage Drive and Glenmore Trail S.E.

The head of the city's community services department, Kurt Hanson, says there have been provincial delays in processing applications for water access permits.

"We're in the queue to address that with them but the other pieces that we need to work on, we're still advancing on those pieces, so that seems to be a real critical challenge for us at this point," he said.

Coun. Shane Keating says it's frustrating.

"I would understand or I would think that you would only need provincial approval when you actually go into the water," he said.

"But anything along the banks that would give better service to the users of the rivers and Calgarians, I would think we should have maybe gone ahead and got done as quick as we can."

With files from Scott Dippel