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 Strategyhas 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 Planis 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:
When City Council approved the Calgary River Access Strategy in February, 2017, five river access sites were given priority development:
West Baker Park – A new parking lot & upgrades to the boat ramp and hand launch sites with additional improvements to amenities.
Sunnyside – Improved access off Memorial Drive to the river edge.
Inglewood and Ogden Bridge – New full service river access sites with boat ramp, parking, toilets and amenities
Graves Bridge – Barrier installed to limit vehicle access to the upstream gravel bar.
In Addition a Signage & Education Program was to be rolled out to inform the public of river access use.
Calgary Parks has recently released the River Access Updatethat details the progress made to date. The fishing community will benefit from public trailers boat access at West Baker Park once Harvie Passage to opened to the public in June 2018. But unfortunately the new boat ramps at Inglewood and Ogden Bridge will not be completed until 2019 at the earliest. Without a public boat ramp in the general vicinity of Harvie Passage, a float fishing trip from West Baker Park to Graves Bridge is the only option.
Bow River Trout Foundation has made a proposal to Councillor Carra who has been supportive of both the River Access Strategy and Harvie Passage development to consider public access to a new boat ramp built into the Low Water Channel of Harvie Passage. The proposal A Boat Ramp to Nowhere would see a new roadway from the Bow Habitat parking lot in Pearce Estate Park to the rivers edge. This development would not only give trailered boat access to the river, but also improve the paddle communities accessibility to Harvie Passage.
The Bow River Trout Foundation – Blue Ribbon Bow Dinnerwill be held at The Calgary Petroleum Club on Wednesday, February 21, 2018 . The event will focus on:
” A Celebration of the Bow River Fishery”
The evening will open with a display of Paul Rasporich paintings, silent auction items and a cash bar at 5:00 pm. A full list of merchandise can be found at the following link. BRT Silent Auction Merchandise
A three-course dinner will be served at 6:30 pm consisting of a salad, a choice the main plate and desserts with coffee or tea.
At the conclusion of dinner service, Peter Crowe-Swords, President, Bow River Trout Foundationwill outline BRT accomplishments and future plans, followed by the introduction of our keynote speaker Ross Purnell by local fly fishing celebrity, Jim McLennan.
Ross Purnell, Editor, Fly Fisherman Magazinebrings a unique perspective to the audience. Born and raised in Calgary, Ross started his love of fishing on the banks of the Bow River. His journalist career has taken him around the world to many great sport fisheries. We will receive a picture of how the Blue Ribbon Bow fits into world class fisheries.
The evening will conclude with the announcement of the silent auctions successful bid.
Tickets available at local fly fishing shops and online for $125.00
The redevelopment of Harvie Passage on the Bow River at the Western Irrigation District weir in the heart of Calgary will be complete and open to the public later in the spring of 2018. The Low Flow Channel has been designed as a safe passage through the weir for all paddle sports and offers a destination water park for kayak and canoe use.
By all accounts the recreation and competitive paddle community are happy with what has been developed by the Government of Alberta. What is unfortunate is that the Government of Alberta and the City of Calgary have been unable to resolve convenient access to Harvie Passage. As it stands now, no improvements to access infrastructure will be made for the foreseeable future.
For Bow River Trout Foundation as a member of Calgary River Users’ Alliance a further frustration is that a boat ramp has been built into the tail-out of the Harvie Passage Low Flow Channel without any consideration for how to access the site with a truck and trailered drift boat.
The document A Boat Ramp to Nowhere – A Proposal for Access to Harvie Passage was sent to Councillor Gian-Carlo Carra who represent the ward adjacent to Harvie Passage on December 18, 2017 outlining two proposals that we believe are feasible to resolve the access issue. It was hoped that our initiative would kick start dialogue within City Council to find a resolution to river access at this site. Unfortunately there appears to be little appetite to engage in the process to achieve a satisfactory river access outcome for all river users.
Once Harvie Passage is opened, the paddle community will be limited to parking at the Bow Habitat Station and carrying their water craft across Pearce Estate Park.
For the fishing community we will only be able to look at the “Boat Ramp to Nowhere” and wonder just what could have been done with a more creative thought process.