News / Calgary

Calgary’s Bow and Elbow River access needs TLC: River users

After the 2013 flood many boat access points on Calgary's Bow and Elbow rivers have been closed down without alternative solutions in place to address demand

The City of Calgary's sections of the Bow and Elbow river are more and more difficult to access.

Helen Pike/ Metro

The City of Calgary's sections of the Bow and Elbow river are more and more difficult to access.

Using the Bow and Elbow River isn’t as simple as plunking a boat in the water, and it’s becoming an issue for those looking to access the city’s beautiful flowing amenity.

The City of Calgary has very few sanctioned accesses to the Bow and Elbow Rivers. According to the Calgary River Users’ Alliance (CRUA), an umbrella group representing many river users, there’s now only one way to launch boats too heavy to carry: and it’s in Fish Creek Park.

Councillor Shane Keating said that’s an issue, as it pushes those who frequent the river outside of the city, and cuts off access to a large number of fishers and other aquatic thrill-seekers to use the Bow River and Elbow River inside city limits.

“We have two accesses at the moment, one is limited and the other is a good one, but it’s in the south of the city,” said Keating. “You technically leave the city when you are doing your public floating of fly fishing with the boats…the difficulty is if you’re a resident and you don’t have a full day of floating on the river (10 hours) you have to exit the river at inappropriate places.”

Keating added the rivers in Calgary are “world renowned” for fly-fishing, and without proper access the city’s hampering access to an industry that could flourish.

On Monday, he will bring a notice of motion to council asking administration prepare a policy report and implementation plan to address the lack of river access.

He said the problem lies in how many stakeholders need to be wrangled together on the problem to get it fixed. The city has several departments involved, and has to also liaise with the provincial and federal government, as river control isn’t solely the city’s jurisdiction.

Peter Crowe-Swords, who describes himself as a concerned member of the CRUA said the group is hoping to find some short-term resolutions.

“We would certainly like to see city administration, in consultation with stakeholders, to see if it’s feasible, or to find a way of opening up Graves Bridge Boat Ramp on a short-term basis,” Crowe-Swords said.  That boat launch was closed by the city in May after complaints of misuse.

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