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.