Swim at your own risk: Sunbathers warned of dangers at Edmonton's Accidental Beach

Love it or hate it, Edmonton’s Accidental Beach is back.

Alberta Health Services says people can get sick from naturally occurring E.coli

Residents are welcome to use beach, but asked to use caution around the water and be respectful of the neighborhood. 0:51

Love it or hate it, Edmonton's Accidental Beach is back.

But officials said Friday swimmers and sunbathers should be cautious if they're planning on visiting the sandbar near Cloverdale.

Dr. Chris Sikora with Alberta Health Services said they are recommending people don't go into the North Saskatchewan River.

Water quality is not being monitored in the area and can change throughout any given day, he said.

Sikora said naturally occurring E. coli in the soil could leach into the water and could make people sick.

"If people do happen to be in the water swimming, they do run the risk of becoming ill, usually with something related to a gastrointestinal illness," he said.

In 2017, Edmontonians flocked to the beach created by a change in current in the North Saskatchewan River from berms installed for LRT bridge construction. (Michael Clark)

He advised people to not submerge their head underwater if they do choose to swim. 

He also said sharp objects, debris in the water and slippery surfaces could also pose a risk to people visiting the beach. 

"It's a lovely beach. It's great to just sit down, sit back and relax under the sun," Sikora said. "But the water quality is quite variable."

While parts of the beach remain under water, most of the beach is covered in wet silky sand which is expected to dry out as weather improves.​

Instant hit

Accidental Beach emerged last summer due to LRT construction of the Tawatinâ LRT bridge. 
City spokesperson Rhonda Norman said people should recognize the risks associated with the unmonitored beach. (CBC Edmonton)

The beach became an instant hit as people flocked to the sandbar to sunbathe and enjoy the water.

Some Cloverdale residents, however, were less than pleased with the extra traffic in their neighbourhood.

To address their concerns, the city recently limited parking in some areas to residents only.

"This is to try and manage some the pedestrian and traffic safety in the area that we experienced last year," said Rhonda Norman, the city's director of river valley and horticultural facilities. 

Officials are asking visitors to be respectful of area residents.

Parking will be limited to residents with a valid permit south of 98th Avenue between 91st and 96A streets.

From Aug. 7 to 12, parking will be restricted to Cloverdale residents and Edmonton Folk Festival organizers. 

Unmonitored beach

While the city is not maintaining the beach itself, temporary portable toilets, additional garbage cans and bike racks have been installed near the maintained recreational trail which accesses the beach.

Fires and alcohol are not permitted at the beach and dogs must be kept on a leash.

Peace officers and police will patrol the area, Norman said.

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