A proposal to place stairs down to the lakeshore from the viewpoint directly west of 35th Street was defeated by town councillors, during their meeting Sept. 23.
A group of 35th Street residents met with council at its July 22nd meeting to complain their access to the beach had been eliminated while accesses at the ends of other streets in the cabin area had been maintained. They requested stairs to the lakeshore from the end of 35th Street.
As a result of that meeting, a motion was passed to enter into discussions with Alberta Tourism, Parks and Recreation “to determine if lake access would be permitted in Sylvan Lake Provincial Park at 35th Street”.
A response from Grant Santo, regional operations manager, parks division, with the provincial department, stated the additional access point was not supported for environmental reasons.
Information provided to councillors stated parks “maintains that a stairway at the requested location would interfere with efforts to stabilize the shoreline in that area” and that further erosion could pose a threat to a stairway and new development on the promenade.
Santo suggested the town look at installing stairs at the viewpoints either east or west of the end of 35th Street.
As a result a proposed resolution presented to council was that access stairs be provided from the viewpoint directly west of the end of 35th Street. That resolution was defeated 3-2 with councillors Sean McIntyre and Graham Parsons voting in favour. Voting against were Mayor Susan Samson and councillors Rick Grimson and Laverne Asselstine. Councillors Ken MacVicar and Dale Plante were absent from the meeting.
McIntyre agreed the space directly off 35th Street is “very limited”. He favoured adding stairs to the lookout between 35th and 36th streets. “I’d like to see the compromise of stairs to nothing.”
Asselstine countered, “It’s nice to come forward with an alternative, but it’s not visually appealing. It’s going to look like an add on, going to be an add on.” As well he noted it’s “not fiscally responsible”.
Samson remembered when the group appeared before council they were “very clear what they wanted was direct access to the water”. Now they’re accepting this change which negates their arguments “that they can’t walk that far”.
She also talked about the environmental concerns. Part of Sylvan Lake Management Plan committee’s mandate is to increase or at least maintain riparian habitat along the shore in the Town of Sylvan Lake. The priority area is where trees and emergent vegetation are found in close proximity to the lake.
“On 35th Street there’s a nicely cleared out area, rocks put there for erosion control have been removed, there isn’t any vegetation in sight. The environment doesn’t have a voice, we are the voice. I cannot support this request to install a metal staircase.”
McIntyre noted installation of the metal stairway off the lookout point would be in an area already disturbed and recently sodded. “I don’t think we’re going to necessarily see disturbance of vegetation.”
Once the motion was defeated he sought clarification the issue could be brought up again after the election and was assured it could be revisited.