Frequently Asked Questions

Will these waves increase flood risk?

No, these waves will not increase flood risk and could actually decrease flood risk. There are more details in the flood risk section on this website.

What happens if the water level control gates fail? Could it cause flooding?

The gates have hinges on the upstream side so if they fail, the water forces them onto the river bottom.

I heard there were problems with water level control gates in London, Ontario. Will that be a problem here and did it cause flooding?​

An anchoring bolt broke on one of the water level control gates in London causing the gate to collapse to the bottom. There was no flooding.

This will not be a problem in Cambridge because the gates are of a different design, operation and construction.

How do wave projects benefit the environment?​

River wave projects provide opportunities to improve habitat, create new habitat and increase awareness. The awareness comes from people being close to and immersed in the river. The more positive interactions people have with rivers and river ecosystems, the more they understand the value of protecting and preserving the rivers.

What are some of the community benefits of river waves?​

Natural gathering place for community events.
New, desired, low impact and low risk sports for youth and other age groups.
New athletic and education programming.
Can be the site of major surf events and festivals.

Can the wave be shut down at night or during floods?

Yes, the entire wave structure can quickly be flattened to the bottom of the river. When the wave structure is flat there are no waves.​ The wave can disappear anytime.

How much does a wave project typically cost​? What are the economic benefits? What are the operating costs? How long does it last?

This wave project will likely​ cost between $2M to $5M.
The wave can bring in over $1M in new economic activity each year. This means the project is paid back within 2 to 5 years.
There are minimal operating and maintenance costs.
The wave can last generations.

Will the wave be adjustable? What does that mean?

Yes, the wave will be adjustable.​ An adjustable wave can be changed to make different shapes and styles of waves suitable for kayaking, surfing or stand up paddleboards.

The city would be in charge of the schedule for specific types of waves so people can plan accordingly. For example a breaking kayaking wave may be scheduled for Wednesday and a glassy surf wave may be scheduled for Friday.

How can I help?

You can help by:

  • getting involved with Surf Cambridge. Please reach out to us.
  • donating funds or donating services and materials or offering discounted services and materials.
  • attend our fundraisers!
Will the Parkhill Dam make the waves dangerous?

No, the dam is upstream and ​is not located close to the wave project. There is no reason for anyone to be close to the dam.

The wave project can be used to educate the public on river safety.

Are river waves safe?

Properly built river waves are low risk and provide an excellent opportunity to educate people on river safety. ​

Safety is best managed through a combination of discussions between users and spectators at the waves and good signage.

The current wave under the Parkhill bridge has been used by kayakers for more than 20 years without a major incident

Injuries tend to be lower at surf waves than skate parks because of the water cushioning effects.

As with all water sports proper safety gear should be used at all times. For example whitewater kayakers are expected to wear PFD’s and helmets and have a whistle within reach.

This spot is immensely popular with recreational canoeists. It looks like this is blocking downriver access. How will you paddle through if you are only passing by?

There will be a bypass channel on river right for boats wanting to avoid the waves. This bypass is downstream of the boat launch ramp at the Parkhill bridge.​ The bypass will consist of a number of smaller and easy drops in series easily navigable by paddlers and tubers. Alternatively, if anyone is uncomfortable there would be a path to carry their boats over the structure.

Where is the funding coming from?

River wave projects are funded by a variety of sources. The funding groups are typically a not-for-profit river community organization, local businesses, government grants, private donations and the municipality. The broad, high profile and lasting benefits of good river surfing waves make them excellent projects for corporate donations, legacy donations and for government grants. River wave projects have been funded over 50% from corporations or private donations.​

Surf Cambridge is a not-for-profit organization and will be running fundraisers in the community.

What environmental impacts will this have on the river?

There will be an Environmental Assessment (EA) completed to determine all impacts. The GRCA is completing an EA for their Parkhill Dam upgrades and we will have access to that information.​

Waves can be built in ways that have a positive environmental impact. The construction area is separated from the river. The project can include improvements to existing fish and riparian habitat and the creation of new habitat.

How will access to the wave be policed if the wave becomes extremely popular?

The access will likely not be controlled as this is public infrastructure on a public river. Access would be similar to most public rivers and the wave access similar to skate parks.

There are well established river etiquette practices that would govern wave usage. Signage would be used to ​remind users to play safe.The wave structures can be quickly and completely flattened as needed. This means the waves can disappear at night or at other times when the waves are not wanted.