Calgary River Access Strategy – Update January 2018

When City Council approved the Calgary River Access Strategy in February, 2017, five river access sites were given priority development:

West Baker Park Concept

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 Update that 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.

20170726_142806Bow 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 Blue Ribbon Bow Dinner – An Evening of Celebration

The Bow River Trout Foundation – Blue Ribbon Bow Dinner will 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 Foundation will 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 Magazine brings 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




A Boat Ramp to Nowhere – A Proposal for Access to Harvie Passage

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.


Blue Ribbon Bow Dinner – February 21, 2018

News Release

Bow River Trout Foundation is pleased to announce that tickets are now on sale for the Blue Ribbon Bow Dinner at the Calgary Petroleum Club on Wednesday February 21, 2018.

The Bow River is recognized around the world as one of the best destinations to catch a “Once in a Lifetime” Brown or Rainbow Trout.

With this in mind we are pleased to announce that Ross Purnell, Editor, Fly Fisherman Magazine as our keynote speaker.

Ross will bring 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.

Tickets available at the following link

Dinner News Release 14dec2017



Graves Bridge Boat Ramp Restrictions and Future Plans

The Graves Bridge boat access site was devastated by the 2013 flood, whereby access to the river was only possible by crossing a large new gravel bar to the river’s edge. Unfortunately, the gravel bar became a vehicle recreational area. Measure needed to be taken to protect this environmentally sensitive area. 

Calgary’s River Access Strategy was mandated to improve river access within the City and became the agency to develop a plan to assure continued river access at Grave Bridge but also protect the adjacent environment. The decision was made to restrict vehicle access to the gravel bar outside of that needed to launch boats. The placement of  two lanes of concrete lock blocks across the the gravel bar from the existing boat ramp to the low flow river edge became the short-term fix. It is recognized that a more permanent solution will be needed in the future.

The following details the Calgary Parks Department development process for the project:

Graves Bridge Lock Block Placement

At the onset of this project City Water Resources prepared a technical memorandum that provided a summary of possible options and the hydraulic analysis of these options. The technical memo concluded that the lock block option would have a negligible effect on water levels in the area.

To further investigate the lock block option Calgary Parks commissioned a consultant to undertake an analysis of the effects of placing lock blocks on the gravel bar. The consultant completed a Fish Habitat Assessment Report. This assessment report covered the following:

-Investigation of biophysical characteristic of the project area.

-Assessment of potential disturbance to fish habitat.  

-Regulatory Approvals considerations (Water Act, Public Lands Act, Fisheries Act).

-Mitigation measures to be implemented during project works (placing the lock blocks on site).

The placement of lock blocks followed the recommendation of the assessment report. 

The lock block option is only a temporary solution to control vehicle movement on the gravel bar.

The City recognizes that a permanent solution to re-introduce water back up to the concrete boat ramp is still needed, however, this work is currently unfunded so there is no scheduled timeline for a permanent solution.

   Contact the City at 311 for any further inquiries.

Bow River Trout Foundation continues to engage with the City of Calgary on the Graves Bridge river access site and other River Access Strategy proposals.