Kingswood Park attendees will soon have a new way to float their boats following a decision from St. Albert city council’s budget deliberation last month.
In December, council voted to put $182,100 from the capital reserve toward a boat dock in Kingswood Park. The funds include costs to assess, purchase, and install the dock, as well as funds to complete the connecting trail.
In planning for the dock, the city will work with design consultants to understand water flow in the area, city spokesperson Cory Sinclair said in an email to The Gazette sent Tuesday. Accordingly, the precise location of the dock might shift as the plans become finalized.
Manda Wilde, senior parks project manager, said the dock could help alleviate pressure on the city’s two existing docks at Rotary Park and MacMillan Park. Wilde said the prospective site for the Kingswood Park dock is already used by park attendees looking to informally access the river.
Coun. Natalie Joly, who gave notice of the motion to fund the boat dock, said St. Albert residents “want to be outside.”
“You go walking down the Red Willow Trail through the summer, and the river has been packed these last couple years,” Joly said. “A boat dock would actually protect the environment so that people aren’t just trampling the side of the river.”
Wilde said the city is seeing shore erosion to the site due to use.
“It’s quite slippery mud,” Wilde said. “We are seeing more invasive [erosion] in that specific location than we would expect, and we believe that’s from human use and people coming in and out.”
Coun. Biermanski asked what type of dock the city is looking to install, noting that docks which don’t stay fixed in one place can be better for the environment.
Wilde said the city is planning to install a different type of dock than the one used at Rotary Park, which is a wheel-in fixed-height dock. Instead, Wilde said the city plans to install a floating dock where anchors are permanently installed in the shore, but the dock infrastructure itself gets pulled out seasonally.
“It would fluctuate with the water levels,” Wilde said.
Councillors asked how many people from outside St. Albert use the dock, but Wilde said the city doesn’t measure that type of use.
“All we see is the impacts of use,” Wilde said.
Joly said “certainly a lot” of St. Albert residents use the river, but said she liked the idea of St. Albert’s Sturgeon River attracting both St. Albertans and those outside St. Albert.
“I’m a whitewater kayaker,” Joly said, “I have rescued so many beginners off of the North Saskatchewan, whereas the Sturgeon is a really friendly river to paddle. My kids can paddle the Sturgeon, and I’m not concerned they’re going to end up five kilometres downstream when they tip."
Coun. Wes Brodhead also spoke in support of funding the boat dock.
“To me … what makes St. Albert so compelling [a place] to live is the amenities that we provide our community,” Brodhead said. “We're blessed with a river. Our community loves it, and if we can assist in it being used appropriately, that is a good thing.”
The motion to fund the boat dock passed unanimously. Because the project was not prioritized in administration’s capital plan — and accordingly unfunded in the original 2022 draft budget — there will be less funding available for other prioritized capital projects in future years.
Work on the project is scheduled to begin in Spring of 2022, with procurement and installation scheduled for later in the summer.