The head of the authority that oversees Saskatoon’s riverfront is backing a call for change in how the city regulates use of the river.
Doug Porteous, interim CEO of the Meewasin Valley Authority (MVA), expressed support for comments made recently by Mayor Charlie Clark regarding the bylaw against swimming in the South Saskatchewan River.
On Monday, Clark said he’d like to see the bylaw move to a more nuanced approach favouring education about the hazards that can be present in the water.
Those hazards can include strong currents, a shifting riverbed and ice cold water released from the Gardiner Dam.
Clark suggested signage and programs to teach river safety could help people learn to manage some of those risks.
Speaking to 650 CKOM on Tueday, Porteous said he’d like to see people have more opportunities to use the river, provided they learn to do so safely.
“Enjoy the river, but know about the river. Be educated about the river.”
However, Porteous said easing restrictions on swimming could create a need for more infrastructure along the riverfront.
“What we do need is a lot of river access sites, so people can get there in their car or their bicycle or whatever and park.”
Porteous said it would be difficult to establish a permanent beach area anywhere along the river due to the constantly changing conditions.
On the education side, Porteous said that while he supported the idea, the MVA doesn’t have the rescources to provide programming due to an ongoing budget shortfall that’s built up over decades.
“We would love to be involved in education programs and everything going on through Saskatoon now. It’s just a matter of having the capacity and ability to do it,” he said.