Mayor and city councillor keen to keep Edmonton's surprise beach on riverbank

An Edmonton city councillor wants a new riverbank beach that popped up in the Cloverdale area to become a permanent attraction.

The beach was formed after a berm was built along the south side of the North Saskatchewan River, so crews could work on the Tawatina LRT bridge.

“It was a drag that it’s taking that long to build the bridge but this is a silver lining,” said Ben Henderson. “It means we have a few years to figure out what we maybe can do to keep the beach. I think it’s certainly worth exploring.” 

He said if the beach gets enough use, the city should consider putting in lifeguards to deal with safety concerns.

Henderson said he plans to ask fellow councillors about the beach next week. He hopes they’ll talk about the next steps needed to explore the idea.

Mayor Don Iveson said while the area is “technically federal jurisdiction,” he’d like to see what can be done to keep the beach after LRT construction wraps up.

“We’ve heard loudly from the public they love having it there,”he said. “And if there’s a way we can keep it and comply with federal and provincial rules, I’m very open to that.”

He said the city will need to do a technical analysis and research what federal and provincial regulations and permits would apply.

Iveson said he supports Henderson’s plan to bring the idea to city council next week.

But time may be a factor.

Once the berms are removed, the natural flow of the river will wash away the beach, said Sue Heuman, spokesperson for Trans Ed Partners, the company contracted to build and operate the LRT line. The gravel bar that was there before the construction will remain, Heuman said in an email.

Some residents are hopeful the sandy beach will stick around.

“It’s a little hidden treasure,” said Emily Chance. “When we go to the outdoor pools we find the lineups are huge and packed. This is a nice place to actually enjoy the sun and get sand at the same time.”

Valerie Conway agreed people need somewhere to go and cool off along the river. She visited the new beach for the first time on Tuesday.

“It takes a lot of driving to get to any beach otherwise,” Conway said. “I hope they keep it. I hope (the city) finds their way around liability issues and we have a place to go hang out that feels like summer in the Prairies.”

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