Quotes for 35th Street stairs above budget; project stalled

Residents of the 35th Street, in the cottage area, won their bid to have stairs to the beach installed within a short distance

Residents of the 35th Street, in the cottage area, won their bid to have stairs to the beach installed within a short distance from the end of their street.

Councillors approved an expenditure of up to $20,000 so a set of stairs could be installed beside the retaining wall to allow people in that area to get down to the lake, during their June 9 meeting.

However a project update at last Monday’s meeting, indicates costs are higher than the budget so it now awaits further discussion following a report to the next council meeting.

David Brand, director of public works, told councillors the town’s consultant contacted eight construction firms and received two quotes, one for $25,000 and the other for $30,000. Costs for the consultant, estimated at $5,000 are over and above those amounts. The costs were for wooden stairs with metal railing similar to that at the top of the retaining wall.

A second request for quotes, for all wooden stairs, came in at just under $20,000 and $23,000.

“It will require a budget variance to proceed,” he said. Brand added he’d just received the second set of prices that morning and would prepare a report for the next council meeting, which is set for Aug. 11.

The most recent saga of the 35th Street stairs began at the May 26 council meeting.

A letter from Gavin Fick was read asking council to “address and error and oversight” and “return access that has been available to us for decades”.

The letter, read by John Law, continued, “of the eight streets that face onto Lakeshore Drive, with the exception of 35th Street, all have access (to the lakeshore)”.

In his own plea, Law said historically they’ve always had access to the beach at the end of 35th Street.

“The biggest reason we want access is we’ve always had it,” he said.

In a report to council, prepared by Ken Kalirai, director of planning and development, a timeline indicated council heard from a delegation of 35th Street residents last July.

At that time council passed a motion to enter into discussions with Alberta Tourism, Parks and Recreation to determine if lake access would be permitted.

A letter received from Grant Santo, regional operations manager of the provincial department, afterwards stated “the point where the promenade passes the 35 Street intersection is very narrow in relation to the lakeshore and Sylvan Lake Provincial Park. The proposed staircase would require provincial park land that is actively being used for shoreline stabilization. Disruption of this riparian environment would risk severe erosion and destabilize the shoreline, potentially threatening the staircase and newly built promenade.

“Both Alberta Parks and AESRD (Alberta Environment and Sustainable Resources) Water Approvals staff have inspected the site and recommend no construction occur on park property at this location.”

Kalirai’s report stated a further meeting took place Sept. 25 and parks “were firm in their position”.

They suggested the town look at two sites on town land at the viewpoints to the east and west of the end of 35th Street. “The viewpoint to the west would likely have the least impact on the shoreline.

“The distance from the preferred site (at the end of 35 St.) is approximately 55 feet. However, given that for pedestrians from the 35 Street junction there is already approximately a one minute walk required to reach an existing access point onto provincial park lands. To provide an additional access in the requested location is considered excessive.”

Councillors at their meeting May 26 approved the addition of access stairs from the viewpoint west of 35th Street. While councillor Chris Lust made the motion, she stated during debate she didn’t support it.

“Part of the attraction of the beach area is the opportunity to walk along the beach promenade. It’s basically a short walk to either locations to get to the lake. It’s a narrow trail, not much of a land mass there. I think they have adequate access to the lake.”

After the motion was passed to construct stairs, Councillor Megan Chernoff made a motion to defer any work so the project could be included in 2015 budget discussions later this year. That motion didn’t receive any support from her fellow councillors.

Then Councillor Jas Payne made a motion that a budget of $20,000 be established for the project. That was passed.

The item was back at the June 9 council meeting, because Payne’s motion didn’t indicate where the money would come from. At that meeting, councillors approved paying for the project from the contingency capital reserve.