Edmontonians may have to look further afield for beach time this summer after a plan to add a sandy strip, water feature and volleyball court near the river at Louise McKinney Park was strongly questioned at City Hall on Monday.
The Community Services Committee had not even officially opened discussion about the proposed beach project Monday when Coun. Mike Nickel suggested scrapping the plan, saying the money would be better invested in improving city drainage and roads.
“Talking about putting an urban beach in Edmonton, against all our other capital priorities ... is just craziness,” he said Monday.
Several councillors supported Nickel’s argument, debating whether Edmontonians even want to see the beach built.
Others questioned whether the sandy feature proposed for the park, which will not have river access, even qualifies as a beach.
“I think it is a bit of the problem. If we would have said ‘sand recreational area,’ politically it may have come across a little bit better. But that being said, now that we all know what it’s all about, I think it would be a mistake to take the word ‘beach’ out.”
However, Nickel fought back against that argument saying the name doesn’t matter when it comes to the bottom line.
“You can call it whatever you want, a beach is a beach. They are talking about putting a pile of sand down there, I think the money can be just spent in other places.”
In the end, Coun. Ben Henderson asked the idea be put forward to city council, saying discarding the plan now "undoes an awful lot of work that was done at council's behest that I think council deserves to have some input into."
The proposed urban beach is part of a larger plan to revitalize the river valley. The project, which would also see a restaurant and new washrooms being built in the park, would cost an estimated $1.4 million.
City Hall will vote officially on the beach’s future next week.