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Old Posted Sep 2, 2007, 3:39 AM
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Saskatoon | White water park/hydropower station

Whitewater park would make too big a splash
Les MacPherson, The StarPhoenix
Published: Saturday, September 01, 2007

Saskatoon's riverbank is a blessedly peaceful place. Especially soothing is the water pouring endlessly over the weir, with pelicans trolling in the backwash. It's one of the few places in the city where you can see people visibly mesmerized by the scenery.

That's why I'm not thrilled with the idea of a whitewater kayak park muscling into the picture. It would spoil the ambience. You can't be properly mesmerized when daredevils in kayaks are doing Eskimo rolls through the boil of artificial rapids.

Sure, whitewater kayaking would be entertaining, perhaps even thrilling. I'm just not sure that this is what we need at the most idyllic spot on the riverbank. Thrills are fine, but there is something to be said, too, for serenity. Whitewater kayaking is the opposite of serenity. It is a frantic activity, with lots of thrashing and sputtering and bouncing off boulders. Almost certainly there will be people yelling "Woooo!" This is absolutely the last thing I want to hear down by the weir. By long-standing convention, if not by law, the weir has always been a Woooo!-free zone. It's a precious sanctuary we have here. Let's not woon it.

Don't misunderstand me. I have no big problem with people yelling "Wooo!" so long as they do it somewhere else. It was for somewhat similar reasons that I voted a few years ago against a proposed riverbank casino. Almost any other site in the city would have been acceptable. I just didn't want to look up the scenic river valley every day for the rest of my life and see a garish monument to the systematic fleecing of suckers.

Now that the Dakota Dunes Casino is shaping up as a major attraction out of town, a lot of people are saying, again, what a terrible mistake it was for Saskatoon voters to have rejected the thing. I'm still with the voters on this one. What a lot of us rejected was not the casino but the proposed site. It's a matter of efficiency. Casinos usually have no windows to distract the marks. To build an attraction without windows on the riverbank would be a criminal waste of scenery.

Whitewater kayaking would be more like an intrusion. The weir is not a place that cries out for action and excitement. This is a place to get away from action and excitement.

As it stands, the whitewater park is just a proposal, but one that is gathering momentum. The city is promoting the project at public meetings later this month. It seems the kayaking lobby is more powerful than their numbers might indicate.

There is also the question of money. Involving as it does extensive alterations to the river itself, the price for a whitewater park will be high. Estimated cost is about $15 million. Not that estimates mean a whole lot these days. On almost every public project, bids are coming in way over budget. Consider, for example, the redevelopment of 19th Street. Nine months ago, the estimated cost was $5 million. Three months ago, it was $5.7 million. When tenders closed two weeks ago, the only bid was for more than $9 million. Extrapolate from these figures, and it's likely the project envisioned will cost $25 or $30 million by the time it's ready for Eskimo rolls. Operating costs as yet are unknown, but they would be significant, especially with the obvious safety issues. You can be sure that kayakers won't be asked to pay for it all.

Not that I have a big problem with subsidized recreation. I'm just not convinced that whitewater kayaking is the best place to invest limited public resources. Especially not when the river is icebound for six months of the year. There is also the question of demand. For all its appeal, kayaking is not exactly the most popular of recreational activities. Those big, pontoon, party boats are more popular. If we could see pontoon boats shooting the rapids, I might reconsider.

Proponents of the whitewater park say it's not just for them. Fish, too, will supposedly benefit. As it is, they can't swim upstream past the weir. The whitewater park could include a fish ladder as a way around. Whether fish really need this is not clear. Significantly, the option of building the fish ladder and skipping the rest of it seems not to be on the table.

Then there are the pelicans. These extraordinary birds, in the middle of the city, are a more appealing attraction than any number of kayaks, if you ask me. Whitewater park proponents say we don't have to choose, that the project would in no way disturb the pelicans. Of course, the pelicans can't speak for themselves. We can only know for sure that they like the river the way it is.

***************

I usually have a good laugh with Les' column, this piece in particular should solidify public opinion and pressure city staff to transform this dream into reality.
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Old Posted Sep 2, 2007, 3:44 AM
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WTF???? why can't sasktoon have a white water park thats world class like winnipeg has its world class skate park?? come on folks if you want peacfull cerinty go up to laronge (spelling) or somthing yeesh
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Old Posted Sep 2, 2007, 3:46 AM
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well arn't there other places on the river where this could go?
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Old Posted Sep 2, 2007, 4:15 AM
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well arn't there other places on the river where this could go?
Not without an even greater cost to taxpayers.

Les' has a tendency to point out all the bad things associated with any of the current issue(s) on Saskatonian's minds, he's one of several locals who have the ability to excite the public and get a reaction out of otherwise uninterested citizens. Although most locals understand this and treat him as such.

He makes a few valid points, but overall the weir in its current state is only something for looking at, Please Don't Touch! The prospect of a whitewater park should transform this space and the river itself into an even more desirable urban retreat to observe and take part in, peaceful serenity included
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Old Posted Nov 20, 2008, 11:04 PM
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I'm going to archive articles and related material in this thread, rather than have it lost in the construction thread.
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Originally Posted by SASKFTW View Post
Committee will urge city to gauge interest in park
Kenyon Wallace, The StarPhoenix
Published: Monday, August 13, 2007

The city's executive committee will recommend to council tonight that the administration hold two open houses in late September to gauge the public's interest in a whitewater recreation facility in Saskatoon.

"Initially, there was a lot of opposition to the project from residents of City Park. But when they learned what a unique attraction a whitewater park would be, everyone was in favour," said Coun. Darren Hill.

Last November, the Saskatoon whitewater park committee presented city council with a conceptual plan for a park that would transform the city's weir into a complex with a six-rapid rafting area on the west side, another set of five rapids, four raised pools and a channel for fish, wildlife and boats. The plan is currently pegged at a cost of $14.7 million.

The executive committee is expected to recommend the city hold an open house on Sept. 22 at the weir and another on Sept. 27 at SIAST Kelsey campus to inform the public and gather input. The feedback from the community consultations, along with the operation and design criteria for the functional design study, will then be presented to city council in October. Such a study could cost between $100,000 and $150,000, according to the city.

The whitewater park committee has already given 38 formal presentations to Saskatoon clubs and organizations and has received more than 2,500 signatures of support, in addition to 675 e-mail addresses in support of the project.

Hill said a whitewater facility would make the weir safer and more environmentally friendly than the current configuration.

"A more environmentally sound fish ladder would be installed to help fish get up the river," he said.

As for the pelicans, Hill said the weir is not a natural pelican habitat to begin with, and the city has essentially created a feeding ground for the birds by building the weir -- a make-work project during the 1930s.

"A lot of people have expressed concerns about the pelicans, but we think this project would have no impact on them at all," he said. "I expect the recommendation to consult the public to be approved."

kewallace@sp.canwest.com
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Gov't announces $100K in funding for whitewater park study
TheStarPhoenix.com
Published: Thursday, November 13, 2008

An influx of $100,000 will aid in the study of a proposed whitewater park in Saskatoon.

The provincial government announced the funding Thursday. The City of Saskatoon and the Whitewater Park Proposal Committee have been jointly examining the potential of a hydro power facility and recreation facility in Saskatoon.

According to a government press release, a joint study will highlight community and environmental effects and provide details about cost and design considerations.

"We are extremely pleased with the provincial government's financial commitment to further study the potential of creating a whitewater park," Whitewater Park Committee chairperson Kent Gray said.

"Studies over the past year have concluded that it is possible to create an attraction that is one of its kind in the world. Development of a green recreational whitewater park is an exciting concept that our committee fully endorses and looks forward to pursuing."

The city's electrical utility, Saskatoon Light and Power, is prepared to commit $300,000 for the development of associated pre-feasibility and environmental baseline studies for a hydro power facility, the release says. This spending is dependent on the approval of council.

According to a document on the city's website that addresses frequently asked questions about the proposal, the whitewater park would cost $14.6 million, subject to a final design.

The hydro power facility is expected to have the potential capacity to supply in excess of four megawatts electricity - enough power to supply approximately 3,200 homes.

Development on the river requires approval from the city, Meewasin, Saskatchewan Watershed Authority and various provincial and federal departments.

© The StarPhoenix 2008

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Whitewater park intriguing notion
Gerry Klein, The StarPhoenix
Published: Thursday, November 20, 2008

The weir is considered one of the most visited sites in Saskatoon.

Winter and summer, people park along the Spadina Crescent parking lot and watch the water crest over the 11-foot drop. The view is enhanced in the winter by the ice that shoots the falls, and in the summer by the pelicans dining at the death trap just downstream where fish gather because their route is blocked.

It is for that reason so many people in Saskatoon have such a close emotional attachment to this now-redundant piece of infrastructure -- and which makes so interesting the two proposals now on the table to eliminate or at least shrink the weir.

First out the gate is a proposal to build some sort of whitewater park, either over the east side of the weir or along the riverbank on the west side.

Alternatively, Paul Van Pul, a Saskatoon resident originally from Belgium and with some experience with managing river systems, is proposing to remove the weir altogether, dredge out a river channel and use that material to build a system of islands and lagoons for recreational boating. Once the weir is gone, he suggests, tour boats and canoeists could ply the waters between the downtown and Wanuskewin or perhaps even farther.

The weir no longer serves its original purpose of maintaining a high enough water level to keep Saskatoon's intake pipes from going high and dry. It is attractive, but the structure is a death trap for anyone who gets too close and also acts is a barrier for fish. As such, according to a report to council a couple of years ago, the federal Fisheries Department would rather the weir isn't there.

But if at least some of the weir must go, I prefer the whitewater park idea more than I do Van Pul's "River with many islands" proposal.

The proponents of the whitewater project suggest it would be one of the best -- if not the best -- such facility in North America. Because of the width of the river, its abundant water flow, the river's incline over the length of the park and the fact that the river flows from a major lake that's controlled by a dam, a Saskatoon whitewater park would be hard to beat.

This facility, which proponents suggest could host international competitions, would also exist in the heart of the city, rather than in the wilderness where the ability to bring in spectators to competitions would be limited.

Besides the competition-worthy rapids, the proponents also suggest cutting a channel with a much more gradual flow, which would enable the less-skilled or even children to enjoy the river.

These, by the way, are not pie-in-the-sky proposals. Calgary is in the process of building such a facility to replace a weir on the Bow River. Just as is the case on the South Saskatchewan, the reason for the Calgary project is also related to the dangers the weir presents and the need to enhance the fishery.

Saskatoon council's support for the whitewater park so far has been limited to putting $30,400 into the pot for a $150,000 feasibility study (the province has agreed to chip in $100,000). However, council this week upped its contribution, although indirectly, when it agreed to spend another $300,000 for a separate but related report to determine the feasibility of using the water that goes over the weir to run a small hydro-generating station that could provide clean energy for up to 3,200 homes.

Although this is separate from the whitewater park proposal, the city felt it could save time and money by conducting the two studies together.

There is no question this co-operation puts in question the city's commitment to study Van Pul's proposal, which also has been referred to the MVA for a look. But the city has more of a responsibility to save tax dollars while considering the benefits of a clean-energy proposal than it does to appear to steer clear of taking sides over which is the best proposal.

Besides, Van Pul and those who oppose anything being done to the weir have an ally against which the whitewater proposal will have trouble competing. The cost of the Calgary park quickly rose from an estimated $6.5 million in 2005 to more than $16.5 million this year. And the Bow River is shallower and narrower than the South Saskatchewan.

The Saskatoon proposal started with an estimated cost of $14.6 million. With inflationary pressures on infrastructures running wild, it could be that Saskatoon or even Saskatchewan could never practically afford such an amenity.

Considering the wealth that is being drawn from Saskatchewan resources, there may be a private corporation wanting to return some of its profits by paying a significant portion of the capital costs, but that won't happen as long as there is controversy over the desirability of such a park.

If it came about, however, there can be no question such a facility would dramatically alter Saskatoon's love-fear relationship with its river.

© The StarPhoenix (Saskatoon) 2008

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Does anyone have an idea where the ideal location for a hydro facility is on the South Saskatchewan River? Assuming the hydro facility does not take away stream channels for fish, canoes, and kayaks, the locations appear to be quite limited.

Possible locations for hydro power???



Source - ToonTown White Water Club

Last edited by Ruckus; Nov 20, 2008 at 11:35 PM.
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Old Posted Nov 20, 2008, 11:08 PM
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So they are going to disrupt the natural flow of the river and destroy fish habitat for a waterpark?
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Old Posted Nov 20, 2008, 11:21 PM
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So they are going to disrupt the natural flow of the river and destroy fish habitat for a waterpark?
No, not any more than it already is.

If a whitewater park and hydro power plant were developed there would likely be an effort to also improve passage for fish. Currently, fish are limited to a ineffective fish ladder on the east side of the weir.
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Old Posted Nov 21, 2008, 6:22 PM
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WTF???? why can't sasktoon have a white water park thats world class like winnipeg has its world class skate park?? come on folks if you want peacfull cerinty go up to laronge (spelling) or somthing yeesh
I agree, the skatepark in Winnipeg hasn't compromised the beauty or serenity of the Forks.

You should go for it Saskatoon!
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Old Posted Nov 21, 2008, 9:47 PM
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i agree but problem with saskatoon is there is pretty much two grops of ppl, ppl that want change and people who want saskatoon to be a town the size of northbattleford, problem is the people who do not want change usually win in some way like not having a downtown casino, shorter building, trying to make riverlanding into a park, or trying to stop riverlanding village.

to me it seems we hardly ever win
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Old Posted Nov 21, 2008, 11:53 PM
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haha good luck dealing with DFO, you can't even drain a puddle without them breathing down your neck. I have no idea how the city could possibly convince them to allow a project like this.

Personally, I like Concept 3, the others are way too intrusive, and way too tacky and unnatural looking for my taste. I think it's a cool project though.
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Old Posted Mar 14, 2009, 1:35 PM
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Concept 'very doable'
By David Hutton, The StarPhoenixMarch 14, 2009

Plans for a whitewater park and a hydro-generation facility at the weir may not be mutually exclusive.

The initial concept drawings done by a B.C. consulting firm has both facilities side by side on the east half of the South Saskatchewan River with much of the current weir remaining in place.

The decision was made last year to study the ideas together to cut down on cost overlaps -- with the province backing the whitewater park and the city supporting the hydro-electric station.

"It's a little unique but very doable," said Rod Neufeld of Saskatoon Light and Power, who manages the hydro project for the city. "There's no guarantee that either will be built or that they'll be built together . . . but the initial optics are good."

The renewal of the weir -- initially completed in 1940 as a means to ensure the water treatment plant had a reliable water intake level -- has become a contentious issue in recent years, but most agree the need to do something is paramount. The current structure raises safety concerns and acts a barrier for fish.

Last week, the hydro plant and whitewater park proponents paddled past another gate, as city council approved Knight Piesold Ltd., the same firm that did the initial concept design, to do an environmental and engineering feasibility study at $353,000. The provincial government has contributed $100,000 toward the study.

There is still some opposition at the council level to studying the projects together. City councillors Pat Lorje and Bob Pringle raised issues with studying the two ideas simultaneously.

"They should be separate projects so we can consider them on their own merits," Lorje said. "What we're trying to do is create synergies for both projects, but I don't think either one of them can stand on its own merits. I believe that this is an attempt to make both of them look attractive by building on each other. We have to get back to Square 1 on our thinking on this."

The consulting firm will study the effect of the whitewater park on fisheries as well as other environmental impacts, said Sam Mottram of Knight Piesold, who will perform the assessment and consult with community groups during the next 18 months.

Some of those concerns include safe fish passage, protection of the white pelican and bird habitat at the island upstream from the weir and maintaining recreational fishing, water quality and the Meewasin trail and parking areas, Neufeld said.

The park proposal, supported by the local whitewater park committee, was initially pegged at $14.8 million when the concept was for a park that would transform the weir into a complex with a six-rapid rafting area on the west side, another set of five rapids, four raised pools and a channel for fish. The new concept would put the park on the east riverbank at a cost of roughly $10 million, Neufeld said.

"We're pumped about it. It seems to be something that's getting better and better," said whitewater park committee chair Kent Gray. "It allows more flexibility in design and to shut the water off to the park part. It's adjustable, so you can make the run easier and harder."

Lost in the debate over the whitewater park has been the hydro-electric facility, which would cost more than $30 million and has the potential to supply clean energy to 3,800 homes, Neufeld said.

Lorje applauded the city for looking at alternate power options, but said she remains skeptical about hydro-generation because of the noise factor and the impact on the surrounding environment. Methane capture, geothermal power and wind power should also be explored, she said.

"I would want to know about the cost-benefit ratio," she said.

The construction of either facility is at least three years away from starting and 51/2 years away from completion, Neufeld said. The next 18 months will be spent assessing the projects before the city and the province will have to finalize their studies and deliberate on which, if either, facility to build.

dhutton@sp.canwest.com

© Copyright (c) The StarPhoenix

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Old Posted Mar 14, 2009, 11:14 PM
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And here's a conceptual proposal...


Source - The Star Phoenix (Print Edition), Saturday, March 14, 2009.
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Old Posted Mar 15, 2009, 12:38 AM
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I really like this draft of the park b/c it really is a hybrid of what everyone wants, there will still be a portion of the weir for people to enjoy, a whitewater stream, hydro plant and an improved fish latter. I personally would like to see the a larger portion of the weir used as a whitewater park. This could have HUGE long term benefits for the city and there will probably never be an opportunity like this again.
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Old Posted Apr 11, 2009, 5:49 PM
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Group sees threat to pelicans
Mandate to battle proposed whitewater park
By Wendy Gillis, The StarPhoenix April 11, 2009 10:21 AM Be the first to post a comment

Liz Philips' protest movement does not include letter writing, rallies or marches; its unique form of resistance comes from simply enjoying Saskatoon's riverbank.

Philips is one of 10 people who have started Pelican Watch, a new Saskatoon blog focusing on the perceived threat to the pelican population from the prospective whitewater park project.

The group has made it its mandate to post developments in the riverbank project and recently held a "day of inaction" where they encouraged readers to enjoy the riverbank exactly how it is: Without a whitewater park.

The City of Saskatoon recently approved a $353,000 feasibility study for a whitewater park and a hydro-generation facility at the Saskatoon weir, with the provincial government chipping in $100,000 toward the cost.

Members of Knight Piesold Ltd., the project's consulting firm, were in Saskatoon this week for meetings with various stakeholders, but the results won't be released for another 18 months.

Until then, members of Pelican Watch want a non-confrontational way to raise awareness about the possibility the weir area -- a popular pelican feeding place -- could be fundamentally changed.

"We wanted a fun way to say, 'We like how things are now,' " said Philips.

The local whitewater park committee is looking to transform the weir into a rafting area on the east riverbank in conjunction with a hydro-generation facility, leaving much of the current weir in place. Philips says she and others are concerned pelicans will no longer visit the weir site "when there are six-person rafts, tubes and brightly coloured canoes. . . . It seems like it's going to be a beach party, and birds are not interested in parties," she said.

But Al Peterson, a member of the whitewater park committee, says the pelicans were one of the first considerations when the committee formed five years ago.

"We knew from Day 1 that pelicans were going to be an issue and that the chances of this succeeding were very much diminished if there was this negative aspect," Peterson said.

The committee looked to Calgary for guidance, where a similar park is currently under construction on the Bow River weir -- also a pelican feeding area. They were referred to Peter Kingsmill, the current mayor of Hafford, whose work as the owner of Shearwater river cruises and on Redberry Lake's pelican project has made him somewhat of a pelican expert.

Kingsmill says it's hard to know if the pelican population will decline along the riverbank, but it's unlikely pelicans will stop coming altogether.

The weir provides a unique opportunity for pelicans because fish get confused, allowing for easy fishing -- what Kingsmill calls the pelican equivalent of a fast food strip. Provided the whitewater park creates a similar swirling effect, "we will still see pelicans there," Kingsmill said, though it's possible numbers could decline.

Additionally, pelicans are very possessive around their nesting areas -- currently located at Redberry Lake, Last Mountain Lake and Lake Lenore -- but they are not shy when feeding, so having people around in boats might not be a deterrent.

But to Philips and the members of Pelican Watch, that sounds like wishful thinking.

"It seems like pretending they'll still be there when really it's very unlikely," she said.

If the whitewater park project is approved, Philips says a more politically active group may form from Pelican Watch members to protest the decision.

© Copyright (c) The StarPhoenix

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Old Posted Apr 14, 2009, 2:42 AM
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Pelicans will notice things have changed and just relocate little further down the river to a more peaceful location. Its really not an issue in my mind.

I hope they go ahead with this idea.
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Old Posted Apr 14, 2009, 4:37 AM
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Pelicans will notice things have changed and just relocate little further down the river to a more peaceful location. Its really not an issue in my mind.

I hope they go ahead with this idea.
Agreed, people think animals are totally helpless but they are pretty smart, this is a breeding ground for them now, an alteration like that wont affect it that much, they just go there for food, the same concept of water pools with fish will still exist, it may infact increase there feeding capacity.
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Old Posted May 8, 2010, 2:22 AM
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Found some high resolution renderings on David Hutton's blog....


Full size

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A whitewater 'winner'
Hydro power, whitewater park feasible in weir redevelopment: study
By David Hutton, The StarPhoenix May 7, 2010 Comments (83)
Read more: http://www.thestarphoenix.com/travel...#ixzz0nIgq2BBN

An Olympic-worthy whitewater rafting course, the largest adjustable standing river wave in the world for surfing and a hydroelectric facility at Saskatoon's weir are economically and environmentally viable, the preliminary study of the concept shows.

"We think we've got a winner," said Rod Neufeld, who's spearheading the hydroelectricity project for Saskatoon Light and Power.

The $65-million concept, which will go to city council Monday night, includes a $2.8-million pedestrian bridge across the river to divert foot traffic from the CP Rail train bridge, which officials consider unsafe by modern standards.

It would also allow spectators to watch kayakers manoeuvre a whitewater channel at the east bank, or university side, or surfers take on the river wave, which functions like a massive water treadmill complete with rapids where surfers ride on the spot.

The hyrdoelectric facility, studied in concert with the whitewater park, could generate power for between 1,650 and 4,750 homes depending on if the weir remains at the same height or is increased up to two metres by adding a rubber dam, the report says.

[...]

If approved Monday night, public consultations will be held in June before city council and the provincial government decide in August whether to spend $2 million to $4 million on design plans and more detailed assessments.

The provincial government would likely have to pick up the tab for the whitewater facility, while the city will seek grants to pay for at least half of the $50-million hydro station.

"We're still open to ideas," Neufeld said.

"The initial study looks good, but there needs to be more thought going forward."

dhutton@sp.canwest.com
© Copyright (c) The StarPhoenix

Read more: http://www.thestarphoenix.com/travel...#ixzz0nIgvq22g
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I'm wondering about the University's position on this project. They've identified the land east of the Meewasin trail as Core land; "Core Lands will continue to serve as a resource in the University’s mission to provide excellence in teaching, research and community service" (College Quarter Master Plan, 2010). One could interpret the purpose of Core lands for any number of uses (see College Quarter as Core land). Surface parking anyone

Last edited by Ruckus; May 8, 2010 at 5:29 AM. Reason: ...removed incomplete thought.
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Old Posted May 8, 2010, 6:16 AM
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so its still working its way through the system glad its not dead
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  #19  
Old Posted Aug 12, 2010, 6:45 AM
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Ruckus Ruckus is offline
working stiff
 
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Too much off-topicness.

Last edited by Ruckus; Apr 8, 2011 at 3:33 AM.
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  #20  
Old Posted Aug 12, 2010, 4:02 PM
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The Jabroni The Jabroni is offline
Go kicky fast, okay!
 
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I'd say go for it. The conceptual designs for it so far are very interesting.

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