'Accidental beach' may continue after councillor asks city to research feasibility

Edmonton’s ‘accidental beach’ on the North Saskatchewan River may live on now that council has directed city administration to look into ways it can become permanent.

Beach along North Saskatchewan River has become popular spot this summer

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)

Edmonton's "accidental beach" on the North Saskatchewan River may live on, now that council has directed city administration to look for ways it can become permanent. 

The beach, on the riverbank adjacent to the Cloverdale neighbourhood, was created by changes to water current during construction of the LRT bridge weirs.

Coun. Ben Henderson, whose ward includes the new beach, made an official inquiry to administration during Tuesday's council meeting. 

He said the popularity of the beach makes it worth investigating. 

"If (the beach) is being created by that berm, I presume it will be around for another couple of years, and I think that's an interesting question about what we might want to do to keep it long-term," Henderson told reporters. 

There are short-term issues that need to be addressed more immediately, he said, such as a shortage of parking and lack of garbage cans.

Federal and provincial environmental officials have said changes to bodies of water that result from construction have to be reversed.

Henderson acknowledged the beach issue won't be easy to resolve. 

"Clearly there are other implications that need to be thought out, and the river is not really ours to make decisions about," he said. "Ultimately some of those decisions have to be made at a federal level. I really just want to explore at this point."

Mayor Don Iveson noted the temporary disruption to the river was allowed under a federal permit granted to allow bridge construction. 

"Those rules are there for a good reason, to protect fish and wildlife and the flow of the river from a hydrological point of view and a geotechnical point of view," Iveson said.

"I get that people are saying, 'Well, don't let the rules get in the way,' but some of those rules are really good rules in provincial and federal law." 

In the meantime, Iveson urged beach users to pack out their trash and to keep down the noise to avoid disturbing people who live nearby.