Bad behaviour puts Accidental Beach on 'probation' this season

Edmonton Mayor Don Iveson said people's behaviour at the beach must improve before the city spends money turning the sandy oasis into a long-term fixture.

Complaints range from litter and fires on the beach to people defecating and urinating on nearby properties

Accidental Beach on the southside of the North Saskatchewan River surfaced last year when temporary construction berms changed currents on the river. (Scott Neufeld/CBC)

Accidental Beach is on probation.

Edmonton Mayor Don Iveson said people's behaviour at the beach must improve before the city spends money turning the sandy oasis into a long-term fixture.

After the beach showed up late last summer, there were reports of people defecating and urinating on local properties or driving through the Cloverdale neighbourhood late at night. There were also complaints about parties on the beach, fires, liquor bottles littered on the ground and portable toilets toppled over on a regular basis.

"It really did get out of hand," Iveson said.

Several Cloverdale residents told the city's executive meeting Wednesday how bad it got last year after news trickled out about an unexpected beach on the south side of the North Saskatchewan River.  

Several Cloverdale residents attended a city executive committee meeting Wednesday to tell councillors about the problems stemming from beach-goers last year. (CBC)

Two residents said their houses were broken into. Reg Kontz, president of the Cloverdale community league, said many homeowners reported that their garages and cars were broken into.

The sandy bar formed last year after two berms were installed — one on the north bank and one on the south — to erect bridge piers for the Valley LRT. The berms created a back eddy that deposited fine sediment on the shore. 

It's not known how the river will react to the berms this year, but the city has its plan in place.

Iveson said the city will step up patrols this season and enforce fire and alcohol possession bylaws. The city also plans to provide more garbage cans, portable toilets along the beach this year and a parking designation for local residents.

"I think we can get this thing back under control," Iveson said. "If this thing is still [a] Wild West a year from now, then I'm not going to be interested spending money on how to make this permanent at all."

Rhonda Norman with the city's citizen services branch confirmed crime incidents went up to 51 in 2017 from 20 cases in 2016.

City staff said they received several hundred complaints about parking.

Kontz isn't opposed to the city providing more amenities but urges people venturing down to the beach to respect local residents and properties.
Reg Kontz, president of the Cloverdale community league, is asking people to share the area and be mindful of nearby homes and families. (CBC)

"Behave as if you're in your own yard, because in many respects you are," Kontz said.

Beach potential

City councillors asked staff to report back in August on elements needed to create several beaches.  

They want to know how much it will cost to do a feasibility study on several sites and the safety risks that come with operating a beach.  

Activity along the river comes with risks — the city doesn't encourage swimming or wading. Water samples are tested for bacteria like E.coli, and signs will be put up this year advising people of potential hazards such as undercurrents.

A recent city report shows five other locations for possible beaches: Big Island, Terwillegar Park, Fort Edmonton Footbridge, Capilano Bridge, and Rundle Park.

Councillors also want staff to report back in August on how steps to curb problems in Cloverdale are working this season.

@natashariebe

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