Edmonton says new location of Whitemud Park boat dock will be better for the fish
Tues., May 29, 2018
EDMONTON—The new city dock project will put the river within reach for more Edmontonians, but environmental advocates at the Sierra Club want to make sure it’s not at the expense of fish.
Now, the two groups may have found a compromise with the location of the new Whitemud Park boat dock.
After activists raised concerns last year, city staff have changed the proposed location of the Whitemud Park boat dock in the hopes would-be boaters won’t disturb marine life.
City staff will present an environmental assessment report on the new location—which is still on the North Saskatchewan River, upstream of the old spot — to council Tuesday.
The city had originally looked at putting the dock just downstream of where Whitemud Creek meets the river, but the Sierra Club said that would be too disruptive to the fish swimming out of the creek.
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“It’s an important fishery, and it’s one of our last ones, and we don’t want any compromises to the fish,” said Charles Richmond, urban issues coordinator for the local chapter of the Sierra Club.
“The problem with the boat dock in that proposed location is it could attract power boats. And when that happens, you can compromise the fish … they can get chopped up and there is noise and there is pollution. So we were very concerned about that.”
The club met with city officials in January to discuss an alternative location, landing on the upstream one.
“At the meeting, the Sierra Club endorsed the revised location and expressed its appreciation for the opportunity to work with the City to review and validate the methodology,” the city’s environmental assessment report reads.
The proposed Whitemud dock is part of the city’s larger Boat Docks and Launches project, which would see docks built in six locations to enable better river access for Edmontonians.
In November 2016, council approved five locations for boat docks but asked city administration to investigate other site locations for the sixth, after the Sierra Club raised concerns.
The project is part of the city and River Valley Alliance 2011 partnership initiative for a series of infrastructure projects that cost $72.9 million.
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Alex Bonokoski, capital program manager for River Valley Alliance says the boat docks project is important for “connecting people to the river and for connecting the river valley itself.”
“So these individual park docks will provide access points for people to use the river, places to get out and experience the river, to get close to the water and touch the water,” he said.
Once council approves the report, construction on the docks is expected to begin for Whitemud as well as Dawson Park, Laurier Park, and Emily Murphy Park in mid-July.
The report also said that the new location requires additional parking in the area. If council determines on Tuesday that more parking is needed, city staff will look into the issue and the funding needed.
Kashmala Fida is an Edmonton-based reporter covering City Hall and diversity. Follow her on Twitter: @KashFida
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