Councillors to discuss provincial park involvement; defer creating beach

The possibility of taking over the two provincial parks at Sylvan Lake is going to be discussed by town councillors.

The possibility of taking over the two provincial parks at Sylvan Lake is going to be discussed by town councillors.

They voted unanimously to request administration put together a discussion paper so the topic could be discussed at a future council or committee of the whole meeting. Both Sylvan Lake Provincial Park and Jarvis Bay Provincial Park would be part of the discussion which will also review a report completed a number of years ago on the same topic.

Councillors also voted to defer creation of a sand beach area either above the sea wall or by improving the existing beach area between the pier and sea wall, until budget deliberations for 2013.

At their May 28 meeting, Councillor Sean McIntyre introduced the idea of creating a beach within Sylvan Lake Provincial Park.

Town staff met with provincial parks representatives and looked at two options. The first, of using equipment to relocate sand back towards the sea wall, was determined as impractical given the current level of lake water.

The second was to create a man-made beach. Two locations were suggested. The first was above the sea wall just east of the road entrance to the provincial park and the second was to expand the existing area at the water’s edge between the pier and sea wall.

The cost to expand the existing beach was pegged at $18,710 while to create a new 5,000 square foot sand beach the estimated cost was $24,015.

The staff suggestion was that once council decided on a direction, the town would submit an application to the government requesting it pay for the work.

Ron Lebsack, director of leisure and protective services, said the current beach area is rototilled once a week, but it becomes hard packed very quickly.

“I like expanding the existing beach area, I don’t consider above the sea wall as being useful,” said Councillor Laverne Asselstine. With the lake level going up and down, he suggested this might be a temporary solution. “My concern is if we go back to the government, that may take this off the rails for the entire summer. I’m reluctant to go down that trail. The issue we have to sort out is here and now, the quicker the better.”

Mayor Susan Samson told councillors she’d talked to Grant Santo, regional operations manager with Tourism, Parks and Recreation, and was told there is no money available for the project.

“We know people are talking about the lack of sand, lack of beach,” said Samson who indicated concern about the impact on the town’s budget. She suggested the town “test the water to find out if residents want us to spend to the tune of $18,000 to enhance that corner. I’m just not sure that’s the solution, not sure general residents will think that this is going to be money well spent.”

“I concur,” said Councillor Ken MacVicar. “I went down there and what I see is people enjoying the grassed area.”

Councillor Dale Plante said, “I’m comfortable with a delay.” But he added he wanted to see the issue back on the table for the 2013 budget discussion.

“I’m fine with that, it gives us a chance to have a better plan,” said Councillor Graham Parsons.

As others agreed to delay the project, Asselstine said, “I’d like to see it happen but I’m not hardnosed about it. There are good reasons why we should maybe wait.”

McIntyre suggested an official request be sent to the provincial government stating this isn’t about enhancement but rather it’s about maintenance. The area isn’t usable now as a beach. “It’s in rough shape, more suitable for cars than people,” he said. The area being discussed is, in fact, used by vehicles to access the ice during the winter months.

That’s when MacVicar called for a more wide-ranging discussion about the town’s involvement in the provincial park. ”We always seem to be skirting the issue,” he said.

Once the sand beach issue was dealt with, councillors agreed with MacVicar and made the motion to have staff gather information in preparation for a discussion.

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