Council consider sand beach question on census to be unrealistic

A Sylvan Lake town councilor’s vision of recreating a sandy beach is not completely dead in the water

A Sylvan Lake town councilor’s vision of recreating a sandy beach is not completely dead in the water, but other councilors agree the issue should not be floated by public opinion.

Coun. Sean McIntyre’s request to include the question on the 2013 municipal census asking taxpayers if they are in support of the creation of a sand beach on the lake side of the sea wall within the provincial park was shot down by council at its Feb. 11 meeting.

While council all said they would like to see a sand beach become a reality, they did not believe asking the question as part of the census was prudent.

“There isn’t a person in this community who doesn’t want a sandy beach,” said Mayor Susan Samson. “I think, however, it would be physically impossible (to make this happen).

The mayor noted the cost of restoring the beach would be prohibitive and far more than the $25,000 budgeted for a sand pit to be built adjacent to the water.

“It would cost hundreds of thousands of dollars to do this and I don’t think we’re in a position to throw that (question) out there, when we can’t deliver. The solution is lower lake levels, not bringing in more sand.”

Coun. Ken MacVicar agreed.

“A better approach is to meet with environment. If we can’t deliver, we will set ourselves up for some trouble. With the lake levels the way they are, dredging the lake isn’t going to do anything. Three times we have met with environment and every time we have been told, ‘we don’t do this anywhere in the province anymore.”

Despite opposition, McIntyre did not back down from his position.

“My plan hasn’t changed since I was elected. The beach and how it related to our town is important to me and to our citizens.”

In her report to council Marilee Littmann, executive assistant for the town, said Grant Santo, local Alberta Parks official indicated he would not support the creation of a sand beach on the lake side of the sea wall. Conventional methods of transporting sand would not be permitted in the lake due to environmental concerns.

Littmann said Alberta Parks believe that the beach would be very temporary and that when the sand washed out it could create a steeper drop off at the swimming area boundary.

In her report, Littmann stated that Santo also indicated that it was his opinion, based on past conversations, that the department of Oceans and Fisheries would also oppose any application for this purpose.

After a lengthy discussion on the matter, council agreed to direct administration to look into the cost, the feasibility and the steps needed for permission to re-create such a sand beach.