Guy Woods, director of Bow Valley Habitat Development (BVHD), is strongly opposed to the proposed location of the River Wave Park.

He believes it could disturb extensive fish habitat work completed before the turn of the century and says that section is known for ice damming. 

Woods believes it should go to a plebiscite to determine if residents want to see it proceed.

"There's no dispute the benefits from a recreational point of view," says Woods, "but there are the other citizens of this town that are environmentalists, and they do believe we have to protect our natural assets."

"I know the mayor has been supportive and a lot of other groups have been supportive, but we're not really hearing from the average citizen in the community."

"We have more than three flowing streams and rivers in this community, and there are a lot of people who want them left the way they are, and I'm one of them." 

Woods, known for his work on fisheries and riparian work in the region, was surprised to hear of the proposal and is puzzled as to why he wasn't contacted because of its potential impact upon the project he completed.

A major fish habitat enhancement project called the River Avenue Boulder Garden was undertaken along this section of the Bow River in both 1987 and 1996. It was designed by well-known author and river engineer Sheldon Lowe, then with Alberta Environments, Technical Services Division, River Engineering Branch.

With funding from TransAlta Utilities, the JP Chapter of Trout Unlimited, and the Alberta Conservation Association, five different boulder sites containing between 26 and 28 class 4 & 5 rock were created over a 4.6-kilometre reach of the Bow River. Each site was approximately 100 to 150 metres in length and a total of 133 boulders were used in the program.

He says the project site is protected under federal law as defined by the federal fisheries act, under HADD, which is the protection against the harmful alteration, damage, or destruction of fish habitat.

"To come in at a later date and build on top of my project, and also possibly have negative impacts upon my project is not acceptable."

He believes that particular stretch of the river now provides crucial fish habitat because of how the boulder program addresses low water issues.

"When the waters high they can move up the river or down the river, but every time the water levels drop down low, those fish are going to head to the safest deep water habitat that's available," explains Woods, "and the River Avenue bridge site is very important in that respect. It's a deep water refuge under low water conditions."

There is also a nesting area on an island in the middle of the river.

"Every year, Canada geese nest on that island, along with other waterfowl I'm sure, and that would be gone if this structure was built. So you're taking away from the natural aesthetics of the river. You're taking a natural wild river and turning it into a manmade water park."

He foresees costly maintenance issues for the River Wave Park because of ice damming.

He also believes the main reason for erosion along that stretch of the Bow River is the number of dogs entering the water in the off-leash area along the river. He suggests a fence would go a long way in preventing access to the river and help control that erosion.

"Actually for the Bow River, both its riparian and erosion situation isn't a major issue right now. There are a few sites and one of them is the dog park."

Woods believes now is the time to address the question of whether the project should proceed before costly river engineering proceeds.

"We could say, well let's wait and see the engineering report, but the trouble with consulting engineers is sometimes they have a tendency to lean towards their clients."

Woods says he is arranging to meet with proponents of the project to both show them the work completed and to voice his opposition.