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Authorities warn about river’s danger

With the all-too-brief nice weather having arrived, users of the Fort Saskatchewan Boat Launch and the parks and trails near the river are reminded that the North Saskatchewan River can be a dangerous place.

Community Standards and Neighbourhoods, Edmonton Fire Rescue Services (EFRS), Edmonton Police Service (EPS), Life Saving Society and Fish & Wildlife are advising to prioritize safety when enjoying the river.

“We recognize the North Saskatchewan River as a popular destination, and our primary concern is ensuring the safety of all who venture onto its waters,” emphasized Zain Haji of the City of Edmonton's Park Ranger Peace Officer Marine Unit. “By staying informed about regulations and observing proper etiquette, we can ensure a safe and enjoyable experience for everyone.”

Last year, Edmonton Fire Rescue Services responded to 37 water rescue events during the spring and summer months — a 32 per cent increase compared to 2022.

In 2023, Park Rangers conducted a total of 7,162 citizen contacts and safety compliance checks, marking a substantial 59 per cent increase compared to 2022. They also carried out 19 Search and Rescue operations, a 73 per cent increase from the previous year. Additionally, the number of warnings issued under the Canada Shipping Act and Gaming Liquor Act rose by 159 per cent, underscoring the need for heightened awareness and compliance.

“It is critical that precautions are taken before enjoying the North Saskatchewan River,” said Brad Tilley, Chief of Special Operations with EFRS. “No matter how confident of a boater or swimmer you are, our river is deceptively powerful and fast-moving. Always wear a life jacket, coordinate safety plans, and monitor weather conditions to avoid putting yourself and others at risk in the case of an emergency.”

The North Saskatchewan River flowing past the West River's Edge park in Fort Saskatchewan, Alberta