On Wednesday February 28, 2018, Councillor Shane Keating asked City of Calgary Administration for an explanation as to why there appears to be delays with the Calgary River Access Strategy construction within the priority timelines of the approved budget. The response was shifting the blame for delays from the City of Calgary to the Alberta Government (AEP) and Canada’s Department of Fisheries & Oceans (DFO).
The response to Councillors Keating’s question was reported in the following CBC Article Our belief is that the response from City Administration was not entirely accurate. To our knowledge AEP and DFO instream permit applications for West Baker Park, Inglewood and Ogden Road have not been submitted but discussions are ongoing to secure agreement for the appropriate permit applications.
West Baker Park is close to development approval. The final concept drawings have only recently been completed. With this part of the consultation process now complete, Parks Department is hoping that permits will be in place to start the instream work in April 2019. Given the usual construction process, this would indicate that West Baker Park will not be open to trailered-boat access until 2020.
Both new river access developments at Inglewood and Ogden Bridge are not even close to the timeline development for West Baker Park. Consulting engineer services were approved for both sites in the early fall of 2017. Once the consultants were in place it became evident that a complete review of site dynamics were needed. This has delayed the engineering layout and would indicate the required permits will not be in place for upwards of 6 months to a year. Therefore, construction would not appear to be feasible until late 2019. Even being optimistic, 2020 trailered boat access to these two new sites will be difficult to accomplish.
The leadership by the City of Calgary through the planning phase of the Calgary River Access Strategy was outstanding and exceeded both CRUA and Bow River Trout Foundation’s expectations. We appreciated the support and commitment from Calgary City Councillors to get it done. We were cautioned by those with knowledge of the mandate that we should expect delays once the project moved from planning to implementation. This has happened and where we are at now. Deflecting criticism onto provincial and federal authorities is not the answer.
The end result, regardless of the blame is that the fishing community will not see public trailered-boat access until 2020 unless changes in the delivery of the Calgary River Access Strategy are made. Harvie Passage will be open to the public in 3 months but will not be accessible by trailered river boats. There are possible short-term solutions to the river access issue for trailered boat access, the most logical being an easement of the Calgary Fire Departments policy of exclusive boat ramp access. West Baker Park has a double lane boat ramp that would suggest shared public and emergency service access is possible. Other city boat ramps are problematic for full public access, but with some creative thinking on the part of all stakeholders a solution is possible.
Barry White has been a Bow River fly fishing outfitter for 35 years. His years of fishing the Bow River along with an insight into the many visitors, guides and local fishing celebrities that have experienced the Blue Ribbon Bow fishery has made ” My Bow River” a compelling read.
Meet Barry White at the BRT Blue Ribbon Bow Dinner on February 21, 2018 at the Calgary Petroleum Club. at a 5:00 PM reception and dinner at 6:30 PM. Barry’s book” My Bow River” will be available at the dinner for a cost of $25.00
Ross Purnell , Editor of Fly Fisherman Magazine will be the dinner’s keynote speaker. And with a silent auction consisting of in excess of $48,000 of art work and fishing supplies, the evening promises to be an enjoyable event.
Tickets available at the following link for a cost of $125.00
Although it is possible for the entire Bow River to be accessed by foot, river boat use is restricted by boat ramp access. Within Calgary, the city’s River Access Strategy has addressed the public access boat ramp issue with new boat ramps scheduled for Inglewood and Ogden Bridge, an upgrade at West Baker Park and Harvie Passage the fishing community will have boat access to the entire city reach of the Bow River.
Below Calgary, The Government of Alberta has developed 5 public boat access ramps all of which were devastated by the 2013 flood. Remediation of boat ramps has taken place, but further improvements are needed.
Alberta Environment and Parks commissioned The Bow River Access Plan to identify access site needs, engaged with the general public and stakeholder groups to develop a timeline for improvements. It is understood that improvements will be made to McKinnon’s Flats and Johnson’s Island. Fish Creek Provincial Park meets immediate needs and Legacy Island will be maintained within the terms of the TU – Bow River Chapter lease agreement.
What is unclear is the future of Policeman’s Flats. Discussions are ongoing for a replacement site less vulnerable to flooding but no definitive decision is expected for two or more years.
A Proposal for Short-Term Improvements to Policeman’s Flats:
Bow River Trout Foundation with a mandate to advocate and support for the Bow River fishery puts us in a position where we can contribute to river access improvements and new site developments. We appreciate that until the final Bow River Access Plan is approved and released to the public, it will be difficult to engage with what stakeholder contributions and support would be appropriate discussion points.
Furthermore, no decisions on a new site development to replace Policeman’s Flats are expected for two or more years. This would indicate that Policeman’s Flats will continue to be one of the major river access points on the Bow River for the foreseeable future.
Bow River Trout’s position that is shared by other river user organizations, river guides, outfitters and the fishing community at large is that the current disposition of Policeman’s Flats is unacceptable as a safe boat launch and takeout point. We appreciate that to totally redevelop the site is problematic given the ownership questions, suitability of further development and new site development at better sites.
Therefore, Bow River Trout Foundation has made a commitment of $5,000 to kick start the revitalization of Policeman’s Flats. The three phase development will see rocks removed that interfere with river access, a clean up and grading of the parking area and possibly an amenities module with a total cost $ 37,525. Grant applications and fundraising activities will contribute a considerable amount of the funding needed to complete the project before the fall of 2018.
Your support by way of BRT membership or a donation will assist with the development. Go to the following link to support our initiates: