River surf park could be built in town of Cochrane

A feasibility study for a river surf park and artificial wave in Cochrane was presented to the Town of Cochrane's Council this week.

Plan for artificial wave and surf park presented to town council this week

The Cochrane River Wave Park on the Bow River would leave room for surfers and others to use the area recreationally. (Submitted by Cochrane Tourism Association)

The tourism association in Cochrane, Alta., has come up with an idea to make the town a destination for people who want to catch some waves, and are hoping it will generate millions of dollars of revenue in the process.

Using a new technology to create an adjustable mechanical wave in the Bow River, the association is hoping to take advantage of the wave tourism market — an industry that one study estimates generates $50 billion worldwide each year.

And though officials expect the project to cost around $10 million, the association is hopeful that it will create between $1.6 million and $5 million each year in new spending.

The proposed location for the Cochrane River Wave Park and mechanical wave is near the River Avenue Bridge in south Cochrane.

A mechanical system would be sunk into the river and then raised to create a drop in the river, creating a wave.

"[It] has a pneumatic system, so the wave can be turned on and off, and it can go at different flow levels," Jo-Anne Oucharek, the executive director of the Cochrane Tourism Association, said on the Calgary Eyeopener Wednesday.

This map shows where the water trail and shuttles proposed in the feasibility study, would be. (Submitted by Cochrane Tourism Association)

The tourism association presented the River Wave Feasibility Study to town council on Monday.

The feasibility study was developed with Calgary-based company Surf Anywhere, which build river waves.

As proposed, the Cochrane river wave would be free for use by visitors, but could also be rented for events and lessons.

Boaters or those using kayaks or paddleboards on the Bow River at that location could either ride over the wave, or use the other side of the river called the south channel  that flows naturally.

Oucharek says the wave will have little to no impact on fish in the river, according to their initial study. 

"There's a natural split in the wave at that location that we're looking at, so fish can move freely upstream without being affected," she said.

The study also includes a proposal for a shuttle system that would transport people who want to float on the river to a setting off point at Riverfront Park, which is further up the Bow River from the proposed surf park.

Shuttles would also take people to and from downtown Cochrane and to a parking location at the Spray Lake Sawmill Sports Centre.

Oucharek says they are still working to confirm funding for the project, and waiting on for the Town of Cochrane to approve it.

She estimates if the project goes forward, it could take five to 10 years to build.

With files from the Calgary Eyeopener


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