A majority of those who raised their hands at Jarvis Bay’s annual meeting July 14 supported their councillors’ unanimous decision that they should not be messing with the lake level.
“This council, your council, unanimously says this isn’t going to work, this isn’t the solution,” Mayor Bob Thomlinson told the audience after reviewing graphs of cyclical changes and statistics on the volume of water in the lake.
“You’d have to remove roughly one million cubic metres of water to take the lake level down one inch, he said. Currently about 33 million cubic metres disappears annually by evaporation, according to the mean average.
“The outlet creek accounts for another 1.6 million cubic metres of water a year flowing from the lake.
“You can mess around with the creek by doing a bunch of small things but that’s not going to make a lot of difference,” he concluded.
“Your council believes this is a cycle. If the nice weather continues, and the rain holds off, it will go down. We cannot support tinkering with this.”
But he added, in answer to a question, that if the lake level continues to increase there is a potential solution which was discussed in a 1994 report.
That’s to expand the capacity of the outlet channel all the way to Cygnet Lake and put in a control structure.
When that solution was proposed, at a cost of about $800,000, there were a number of provisos. The total excluded all environmental studies, gathering stakeholder input, and engineering costs. Today we’d be looking at $2-$2.5 million.
“I’ve been here 50 years and I’ve seen the beach come and go and come and go,” said Councillor Annabelle Wiseman.
Answering a question about what the trigger point is for changing their opinion, Thomlinson said he didn’t know. “The biggest issue is where does the money come from … There are no quick fixes. There is a solution and it is big money. We don’t have the capacity to do it right now. We need to have proof some calamity is coming. At the moment (Alberta) Environment is saying it’s a lake and it goes up and goes down.”
He noted, as well, that during a meeting at the creek a representative from Fisheries and Oceans Canada said they wouldn’t approve work that would disturb the critical pike spawning habitat.
In other matters discussed during the meeting:
• Thomlinson indicated the summer village took over Petro Beach from Red Deer County last year and Sylvan Lake Lions Club has agreed to continue to maintain the park under an annual contract.
Shoreline stabilization will be required for sections of the beach so erosion doesn’t threaten their road but he didn’t know yet what the stabilization would look like.
A survey was sent to area residents asking for input so councillors can draft a bylaw for park operations.
They’ve budgeted to spend $20,000 on the park this year.
• The municipality is in very good financial shape with about $1.3 million in reserves for specific reasons. The municipal tax rate was pretty close to last year while educations taxes rose.
“If you were part of the town, your taxes would be 73 per cent higher,” said Thomlinson.
• A $60,000 budget item, under their recreation and culture category, is to pay the municipality’s portion of the cost of a bridge over the outlet creek in the Twin Fawn subdivision. When work begins in the subdivision a pathway and bridge will be added that will help get foot traffic and bicycles off Highway 20.
• Priorities for council include Highway 20 traffic and getting the speed limit reduced, installation of the walkway bridge, drainage and flood prevention, supporting Sylvan Lake Management Committee, representing the summer village’s interests in surrounding development activity in Red Deer County and the Town of Sylvan Lake and policing and speed control.
Speaking to the last item, Thomlinson said the summer village has contracted the Corps of Commissionaires to patrol and respond to complaints in a marked vehicle seven days a week. He noted though they can’t handle moving vehicle violations.
• The speed is being lowered to 30 km/hr in the more cottagey area where roads are narrower with trees closer, there’s more parking on the roads and blind driveways.
Thomlinson said last year they raised the limit in the north Jarvis Bay area to 40 but have since realized they made a mistake. The speed limit change affects the area north to the entrance to Jarvis Bay Estates and to the end of the curve where roads widen with ditches and fewer people park on them. Signs will be erected shortly.
“There has been a request for speed bumps — really that’s a last resort,” said Thomlinson. “Council does not want to look at it unless it’s really necessary.”
• An open house is scheduled for July 28 from 2-5 p.m. at the summer village office regarding bylaw and regulatory changes proposed as part of the Municipal Development Plan update.
• Discussion also took place on ways the summer village could control access to the lake and placement of boat lifts. One resident was concerned that with the possibility of Sandbar Estates subdivision being created across Highway 20 they would be inundated with people from that area trying to use their access road.