A portion of Lakeshore Drive closed in late June 2022 and opened early after the town received complaints.

A portion of Lakeshore Drive closed in late June 2022 and opened early after the town received complaints.

Lakeshore Drive opened Aug. 2

A portion of Lakeshore Drive was closed in late June and is now open again, earlier than the town originally planned.

The strip of Lakeshore Drive was originally going to be closed for the summer, but it opened up again Aug. 2 after the town received several complaints about the closure.

Sylvan Lake Mayor Megan Hanson explained the town had closed this portion of the street on weekends during the pandemic, as a trial, and it had worked great for pedestrian traffic. The town expanded upon that success, but it didn’t go quite as well this time around.

“I think the weather, construction and traffic flow – it wasn’t exactly as we had envisioned it,” Hanson said. “I’m really happy to work with a council that is responsible enough to admit when we’ve made a mistake and do something different.”

Hanson also said this is a project the town will be looking at again in the future.

“We’d heard feedback from residents and businesses that it wasn’t working,” she continued. “Some issues were walking traffic, a lack of drive-by traffic on Lakeshore, and quite a bit of it was from residents trying to drive downtown because there’s so much construction taking place. But the feedback was overwhelmingly positive when we did it before.”

When the town announced the opening on their Facebook page, they received many positive comments, but also a lot of negative comments from people who had been happy with a portion of the street closed off.

Ian Cotton, owner of The Driftwood along Lakeshore Drive, is one such business owner who doesn’t agree that opening up that portion of the road is a good idea.

“For me, the main reason for closing the street wasn’t business – it was safety,” Cotton explained, adding that between children dashing across the street and drivers speeding and paying more attention to the beach than the road, it’s a recipe for disaster.

“Either or, I don’t think it’ll affect my business,” Cotton said of the re-opening. “But I would have preferred to keep it closed.”

There was a consultation process when it came to shutting down the road – the town asked business owners for their vote, and Cotton said he voted in favour of the closure. However, the town didn’t ask business owners about opening the road back up.

Cotton said he didn’t invest in expanding the restaurant’s patio to take advantage of the closure, but some businesses did and now they will be out that money.

“I think they listened to the squeaky wheels,” he said. “But for me, what’s going to happen now if some kid gets run over next week? The town’s now culpable for that. It’s inconveniencing people who want to park on the street, but it’s not a big deal.”

In the future, Hanson said the town will need to do a better job of planning such a closure and allocate some budget dollars towards the project.

“Next year is probably off the table with some planned construction,” she said. “There’s so many communities that do so well when it comes to pedestrian traffic, but it’s going to require more planning for us.”

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