Neil Egsgard, president of Alberta River Surfing Association and Surf Anywhere poses for a photo by the Bow River during the Slam Festival in Calgary on Saturday, August 10, 2019. Azin Ghaffari/Postmedia Calgary
Azin Ghaffari / Azin Ghaffari/Postmedia Calgary
Surfers are hoping to ride the wave in Calgary with a proposal for a new urban beach and manufactured surf area near the 10th Street bridge on the Bow River they say will have long-term economic and environmental benefits.The Alberta River Surfing Association has partnered with Calgary-based Surf Anywhere to develop the estimated $7-million project to create a “world-renowned” river surf area as the urban epicentre for surfers in Western Canada and the northwestern United States.“There is no competing facility like this within a thousand kilometres,” said Neil Egsgard, president of the provincial surfing association and Surf Anywhere, at the third annual Slam Fest downtown Saturday.“But, it’s not just for surfers. We are also taking part of the shoreline that is slowly eroding and turning it into a jewel for Calgary. We’re creating an incredible cultural anchor that welcomes people. When the river enters Calgary it becomes a gateway into downtown.”Similar projects have been completed by Surf Anywhere in Kananaskis County just outside of Calgary and in Bend, Oregon.
A rendering of the proposed urban beach and surf waves design.
Neil Egsgard /
Egsgard said the project will help reduce flood risk in the Calgary core, in addition to bringing a new revenue stream to the city and province. If all goes to plan, the urban surf area and beach construction would correlate with a planned lowering of the 10th Street gravel bar island for flood mitigation.“Not only are we reducing the flood risk but we are taking an area of the city that is a little bit dangerous and turning it into a huge river resource,” he said.“When you bring people down to the river and they spend time by it, they develop connections with it and care about the ecosystem and understand the importance of protecting the shorelines we have here and places for the animals and making sure we have clean water.”The organizations have completed a feasibility study in addition to the concept design and are currently preparing a detailed design report to present to the City of Calgary and the provincial government. Egsgard said they plan to show the report to city staff in December or early 2020.Riley Krumes, an instructor with Outlier River Surf, which provides river surfing lessons in Calgary said city surfing is only a summer activity currently but pushing forward with an urban wave and beach project would allow surfers year-round chances to hang ten, except for times of heavy ice coverage.At Slam Fest, she was one of a handful of instructors riding the small wave presently under the bridge. If the project gets the green light, three wave channels between 10 and 15 metres wide would be created.
Jacob Kelly Quimlan surfs on Bow River during the Slam Festival in Calgary on Saturday, August 10, 2019. Azin Ghaffari/Postmedia Calgary
Azin Ghaffari /
Azin Ghaffari/Postmedia Calgary
“Creating awareness and getting that hype up is what’s going to push this wave belt and it’s what’s going to get more people, world-class people, out here,” said supporter Krumes.“I believe it’s like an unpolished gem and we just really need to push for it.”If approved, the project would take anywhere between four and nine years to complete. The team would need to acquire all necessary funding and apply for a permit, which alone could take a couple of years, Egsgard explained.He said the city has been supportive of the idea following their presentation to 14 city departments.Now, they just need additional details to better understand what needs to be built and how it will be done, in addition to the allocation of funds through the city, province, federal government and community members.The economic return is estimated to hit about $1.6-million per year, conservatively, to as much as $6-million, taking a bite out of the global surf tourism industry valued at $50-billion per year.“They (urban beaches and surf waves) are two tried and tested things that improve a city, pulling them together in a unique Calgary way will make our city a better place to live,” said Egsgard.Area councillors Evan Woolley and Druh Farrell did not respond to requests for comment Saturday.firstname.lastname@example.orgTwitter: @alanna_smithh