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Reflecting on our Waterfronts

 September 9, 2015
Posted by NWT Recreation and Parks Association

With the summer quickly coming to an end, the leaves whispering of the snow to come, and communities bustling with the last weeks of summer programs and pool closures, recreation staff are beginning to look to future preparations for Christmas events and Jamborees. Although it may seem “light years” away, it’s important to include in the thinking process the future of our waterfronts in 2016.
In the NWT, most communities sit on a river, lake or ocean. We get to experience the great joys of water sports, fishing and swimming but we also are exposed to the potential dangers that open water brings. With so many people using the waterfronts for many different activities, it is important that the communities work to provide waterfront users with information on how to use waterfronts safely.

A few things to consider:

  • What type of waterfront do you have??? River? Lake? Ocean?
    • These will all have different purposes and aspects to consider (tides, eroding, etc)
  • Where is your waterfront located???? Close to emergency services? Easily accessible?
    • Location is a big factor in determining aspects such as entry points, whether a dock is needed, and places that might flood (meaning limited access during these times).
  • Who is using you waterfront??? Swimmers? Fisherman? Boaters? Etc.
    • One thing to keep in mind is that if your waterfront is being used for different activities, you will need to provide separate, well-defined areas for each activity.
  • What sorts of hazards could your waterfront present???? Shallow water? Deep water? Wildlife? Currents?
    •  It is extremely important to work on identifying and putting in procedures/controls for hazards at your waterfront. And to reassess these hazards over time as they may change with the changing environment and use of the waterfront.

There is much more one should consider when either setting up a waterfront or maintaining one…and there is help!

In 2014, the Alberta and Northwest Territories Lifesaving Society came out with a great document to help communities review, discuss and make plans for their waterfronts. The Northwest Territories Waterfront Safety Guide is a beautifully illustrated and researched 19 page booklet with valuable information to help start the process. Should you want more information on making your waterfront safe, feel free to contact them at 780-415-1755 or email experts@lifesaving.org

Blog post written by Rose Constantineau, Aquatics Coordinator for the NWTRPA