Calgary seeks to triple river access sites for boats, pedestrians

The City of Calgary has identified 24 potential river access sites along the Bow River to improve accessibility for boaters, rafters and pedestrians.

24 potential sites identified for trailer launches, hand launches and wading along Bow River

The city is looking at ways to improve river access in Calgary. (CBC)

The City of Calgary wants to more than triple the number of boat launch sites along the Bow and Elbow rivers as part of a new River Access Strategy.

The strategy, which could cost up to $7.7 million if fully implemented, would increase the number of official boat launch sites on the Bow River to 24 — up from the three the river currently has. 

Coun. Shane Keating said improving river access will benefit pedestrians and casual river users as well as the boating, fishing and rafting companies that use the city's waterways. 

"The idea is to make it as safe as possible," Keating told the Calgary Eyeopener. "We want to make sure that when people are there and they're enjoying the afternoon, they're doing it in the right, responsible manner."

A city report identifies 24 potential sites along the Bow for trailer launches, hand launches and designated wading areas.

Six of them are considered "high-priority" sites, including:

  • Two additional ramps and a fishing pier at Scenic Bow Road N.W. under Stoney Trail N.W.
  • Stairs and a garbage receptacle along Memorial Drive at 3rd Street N.W. 
  • New boat ramps at both the Inglewood Bridge and Ogden Bridge.

There are many unofficial launches along the Bow — the river is publicly accessible, so someone could technically put their raft in anywhere. But that can be dangerous, both to rafters and the environment, Keating said. 

The $1.7 million proposed for the high-priority sites includes $20,000 for educational signage. 

"We're trying to make sure that not only are you safe when you get in and it's the right location due to the flow and the current, but you're also not harming the environment," Keating said.

City administration will present the strategy to the Community and Protective Services committee on Wednesday.