Ottawa

Britannia Beach to be closed until 2021 for dredging work

Britannia Beach will be closed for nearly the entire summer so that the city can dredge sand, the city says — and won't reopen until 2021.

Work set to begin in July

Britannia Beach, a popular swimming spot on the Ottawa River, will be closed from July until the fall for dredging work — and that has the owner of the burger shack on the beach feeling 'petrified.' (Trevor Pritchard/CBC)

Britannia Beach will be closed for nearly the entire summer so that the city can dredge sand, the city says.

Crews will shut down the popular Ottawa River swimming spot in July, and it will be off-limits until next year.

"We all share the disappointment," Bay ward Coun. Theresa Kavanagh said Thursday.

While inconvenient, the work is necessary, Kavanagh said. The artificial beach needs regular dredging to stay clean and remain deep enough for swimming.

Last dredged 3 decades ago

Dan Chenier, general manager for the city's recreation department, said the beach hasn't been dredged since 1990, however.

Since then, wave and river currents have deposited sand and silt to the point that the river can be shallower than half a metre off the beach at the height of summer.

"This season's dredging work will allow for a more consistent slope and better water depth within the swimming area," Chenier said in an email to CBC Friday.

The beach won't open again until summer 2021, he said. The work is estimated to cost $3 million. 

The Baja Burger Shack is the only business that operates at Britannia Beach. (supplied by Majd Samrout)

Majd Samrout, owner of the Baja Burger Shack — the only business at Britannia Beach — expects a significant hit to sales this summer, and may even close for part of the season.

"Generally for us, our busiest time is July," Samrout said.

"I look at what the businesses went through on Elgin and everything they've endured in the last couple years — I guess it's just my turn now."

Park will remain open

Samrout said city employees told him earlier this month the beach would be closed starting July 1. The city will build a two-and-a-half-metre mesh fence to try and block sand and dust from infiltrating his patio, he said.

He said he's noticed the swimming area has gradually become more and more shallow, and he's received complaints from customers about the shallow water. 

From a business point of view it's horrible. I'm petrified. But as a private citizen, you need to do it.- Majd Samrout, Baja Burger Shack owner

"From a business point of view it's horrible. I'm petrified. But as a private citizen, you need to do it," he said of the dredging work.

Britannia Park will remain open this summer, including the pier and picnic area, which gives Samrout some hope the area will continue to attract hungry people, even if the beach is closed.

City officials will be on hand to answer the public's questions at Ron Kolbus Lakeside Centre on Tuesday, Jan. 28  at 7 p.m. 

 

About the Author

Laura Glowacki is a reporter based in Ottawa. Previously, she worked as a reporter in Winnipeg and as an associate producer for CBC's Metro Morning in Toronto. Find her on Twitter @glowackiCBC and reach her by email at laura.glowacki@cbc.ca.

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