Harvie Passage Update June 2018

The latest news about Harvie Passage after the May 30 testing

Dear Project Team, 

Thank you for the opportunity to get on site and see the great work that you have done to rebuild Harvie Passage. I am overwhelmed in how nice the LWC has come together. The way the river moves in a natural way, combined with the landscaping makes this a wonderful recreational facility for both water and land based users. I am very excited for this summer season to kick off and to see the reaction from Calgarians who find this new attraction.

 We didn’t get a chance to find out what the plan is for opening this facility up to the public. I know there is some concern about several issues.

-        Safety boom plan

-        Boat testing in Drops 3R and 3L on the HWC

-        Landscaping and finishing work

-        High water advisory

We were initially told that once the active construction in the channel was finished we would see the river opened to the public. But with the testing of 3R and 3L in the HWC needing to be done, we pushed back that opening date to June 1. I know there is some opinion that the facility should stay closed until everything is complete and an official opening ceremony can be organized. This could be well over a month away with the “ High Water Advisory” season on us.

The Calgary Fire Department has done the swim tests in the HWC and that demonstrated that Drops 3L and 3R will release swimmers, so it is going to be safe to swim through. We have also heard that there have been some rafters that have gone down through Harvie Passage in the last few weeks. I believe it is going to be hard to keep the experienced whitewater paddlers off of the river much longer.

I would like to suggest that we offer a “Soft Opening” to the paddling community. We ask Transport Canada to lift the boating restriction for June 1 and inform the organized canoeing, kayaking and surfing communities that Harvie Passage is open for boating. Paddlers would have to respect these conditions:

-        Paddling in groups of 2 or more boats within rescue distance (site and sound) of each other

-        The use of helmets and of course the proper protective gear (pfd’s, wet/drysuits)  

-        Ready access to a communication device on the shore of the river

-        Launch from the lower end of the Portage Channel and take out below the construction area

-        No access from the LWC embankment and no foot traffic along the LWC embankment. Rescues when necessary must stay in the water and relaunch into the channel

This will give us an opportunity to beta test the facility with experienced paddlers before the public starts to use the facility. It will highlight any problems and showcase the facility. We do not have to announce that Harvie Passage is officially open. We can tell everyone that we are still testing the facility and anyone using the facility must be an experienced paddler.  

Having our paddlers on the river will also create some traffic on the site in the event that we have rafts and dinghys poaching the site and having problems. The experienced paddlers that would be on the river are well schooled in river rescues and can easily handle swimmers in the water.

When the City and Province are finally ready for the Official Opening we will have a great response from our paddlers.


Chuck Lee

Executive Director

Alberta Whitewater Association

Box 162, Lundbreck, AB, T0K 1H0

403-628-2336   admin@albertawhitewater.ca


Celebrating 5 decades of whitewater kayaking in Alberta 



I am glad that you approve of the work done at Harvie Passage.  Unfortunately the whole of Harvie Passage is still an active construction site as defined in our contract and as defined by Alberta Occupational Health and Safety.  As such all visitor to the site must go through our contractor and their safety protocols.  We can not allow any paddlers on our site.  Doing so would put significant liability on the contractor (and others on the project team).

We ask for you patience.  We had a long winter and are therefore behind schedule.  But we are working as fast as we can.  We are hoping to make a formal announcement soon.

Carl Wirzba, P.Eng
Team Lead
, Water Management Projects – South

Major Capital Projects Branch
Alberta Transportation

Tel   403-382-4084

Cell  403-308-9874