Sewer system ‘shovel ready’; other issues reviewed by Birchcliff councillors

A ‘shovel ready’ plan to install a sewage collection system in Birchcliff was one of many topics discussed when the summer village

A ‘shovel ready’ plan to install a sewage collection system in Birchcliff was one of many topics discussed when the summer village held its annual meeting Saturday morning.

About 30 people gave up two hours on the beautifully hot sunny day to listen to their councillors talk about the past year and plans for the future.

Deputy Mayor Thom Jewell said the community has applied to the provincial government for funding to complete the wastewater project which entails tying every lot into a collection system that would link with the regional line that takes effluent for treatment in Sylvan Lake’s lagoon system.

A lift station is being constructed at the corner of Birchcliff Road and Range Road 1-4 and should be commissioned by early next year. That opens the way for Birchcliff residents to join the system.

Jewell also noted the summer village has money available to cover its 25 per cent share of the project while they’re hoping the province will contribute 75 per cent.

“The whole project is based on the PC government’s vision for Central Alberta,” he said.

Property owners would be responsible for the portion of the costs involved in tying their systems into the collection system — basically the cost of work done on their property to get to the line to their property line.

“Hopefully we will hear this fall and can start work next summer,” said Jewell.

Another subject Jewell talked about was potable water and work of the Sylvan Lake Regional Water Commission.

A study done by Golder Associates indicated that the current aquifer being tapped by wells for summer village residents as well as town residents can support roughly 18,000 people within the watershed. “However there is a deeper aquifer that is sparsely sampled … The next step is trying to quantify how much is in the deeper aquifer.”

Councillor Michael Wells talked about his frustration with the slow progress of the Sylvan Lake Management Committee (SLMC) and issues with high lake levels.

“Are you going to see lowering of the lake this summer?” he asked. “Of course — if there’s no rain for two months and it’s hotter than hell, the level may drop an inch or two.”

He explained the simplistic idea of digging out the outlet creek is not an option. Members of the committee met with provincial and federal officials at the creek site to discuss the idea. Alberta Environment suggested the work could be done, but a representative from Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO) was there and said no work could be done because it’s a key pike spawning area. “We were standing by the water when a four foot pike swam by, DFO won,” Wells said.

Besides those two organizations, others that are involved in the issue include Alberta Sustainable Resource Development, the Cygnet Lake Irrigation District, Ducks Unlimited which controls the weir and works with the irrigation district and Alberta Transportation which controls “the temporary diversion on the west side of Highway 20”. “We have all these different departments and we’re trying to get agreement … Anything we do to the lake has to have agreement of all these parties.”

“We’re putting a lot of effort into trying to get people to control the lake level,” said Wells. “The (high water level) peaks are getting higher and the lows are getting higher.” An alternative is ‘armouring’ the lakeshore which in Birchcliff would cost the summer village about $2 million for the area it controls. “Do we really want to turn the whole lakeshore into big limestone blocks? If we aren’t successful we may have to look at that.”

Another initiative of the SLMC is to create a cumulative effects study which will gather all the various reports done on the lake and look at what factors affect quality of water in the lake to determine what should be measured in the future. A technical committee is working on the project. “Lacombe County is contributing in kind to this committee immensely,” he said.

On the issue of lake access, Wells said the Alberta government has said every Albertan has the right to use the lake. “They may have the right but there’s no access point. It’s a provincial government responsibility,” Wells said. “If the provincial government wants more access it’s going to have to purchase land.” He estimated the cost to do that at $2 for every Albertan.

“Our point in the summer village is it’s not our obligation to provide access. It’s not our obligation if there is access in our summer village that Birchcliff has to pay the costs to operate it.”

Wells had earlier updated the audience on changes at the Range Road 1-4 access where work was completed to stop major erosion and trees were planted to limit access to people walking to the shore.

At Range Road 1-5, beside the church camp, they’ve finished a stabilization project which included building a minor retaining wall and adding fill material. “The only other alternative is to completely shut it down, but lots of people use it,” he said of the access route which is used winter and summer.

Mayor Joyce Megson, in her report, said her first major task last year was working with the other summer villages to hire a new chief administrative officer. That also led to a new joint services agreement between the five summer villages around the lake to streamline a lot of the similar things.

Political networking has also consumed a lot of time, she said. “In the past 12 months there’s been more political networking than ever before,” she explained, listing meetings with various government ministers, recently elected Innisfail-Sylvan Lake MLA Kerry Towle and Lacombe County officials.

Megson said she started attending Lacombe County meetings in 2000 and has noticed a change in their attitude to lake issues. “They really listened to all presenters concerned about the lake. I’m happy to report Lacombe County is listening.”

Another project underway, said Megson, is updating the municipality’s Land Use Bylaw. “I’m hoping to have that before the snow flies.” She noted they’re trying to harmonize similarities among the five summer villages but there will be differences. A public meeting to review the changes is proposed for the fall.

Consultant Bill Shaw also talked about growth and a revised Municipal Development Plan (MDP).

“One of the issues council has been considering is opportunities to expand the community’s land base while co-operating with adjacent municipalities … We want to know from residents, should we grow or retain our current boundaries?”

Those attending were also provided with a “Strategic Planning Directions” document and asked to provide comments. The document details the community vision, core values, guiding principles and directions that will be addressed in the new MDP.

Shaw asked for input by July 25.

Just Posted

Sylvan Lake Pirates force Whitecourt Wild to walk the plank

The Pirates have played their way to back-to-back wins to sit seventh in regular season standings.

Sylvan Lake students prepare for opening night of ‘Almost, Maine”

Students and staff from H.J. Cody have been hard at work since September to bring Almost to life

WATCH: Sylvan Lake’s Daddy/Daughter Dance

The event was put on by SPARC Parent’s Association on Nov. 17

West Central Midget Tigers pounce on Airdrie

The Tigers’ regular season record is 10-1-2 after two wins this weekend

Big Bear Energy makes a big donation to Sylvan Lake Christmas Bureau

Big Bear Energy recently gave a donation to help families in need this holiday season

VIDEO: Shoppers like self-checkout lanes at the grocery store, survey suggests

Grocery Experience National Survey Report suggests most grocery shoppers spend 32 minutes per visit

$90,000 pen from space created by B.C man

The Space pen is made from a meteorite

B.C. woman fined $2,300 for clocking 215 km/hr

It’s the highest fine Alberta police have issued

South Korean named Interpol president in blow to Russia

South Korea’s Kim Jong Yang was elected as Interpol’s president edging out a longtime veteran of Russia’s security services.

E. coli outbreak linked to romaine lettuce sickens 18 people in Ontario, Quebec

The Canadian Food Inspection Agency says it’s working with U.S. authorities to determine the source of the romaine lettuce those who got ill were exposed to.

Trump defies calls to punish crown prince for writer’s death

The U.S. earlier sanctioned 17 Saudi officials suspected of being responsible for or complicit in the Oct. 2 killing, but members of Congress have called for harsher actions, including cancelling arms sales.

British, EU leaders to meet as Brexit deadline looms

The U.K. and the European Union agreed last week on a 585-page document sealing the terms of Britain’s departure.

Richard Oland was killed ‘in a rage,’ prosecutor tells son’s murder trial

The verdict from Oland’s 2015 murder trial was set aside on appeal in 2016. Richard Oland, 69, was found dead in his Saint John office on July 7, 2011.

Former NHL player and coach Dan Maloney dies at 68

Maloney coached the Toronto Maple Leafs and Winnipeg Jets

Most Read