Sylvan Lake pooches could soon see access to the lake

Town staff is investigating possible locations for dog access to the water

Sylvan Lake Town Council is looking at options to allow access to the lake for dogs for the 2019 summer season.

Council directed administration to investigate dog water access at two locations along Lakeshore Drive, out of a list of potential areas identified by Town staff.

After a lengthy discussion, Council directed Town staff to investigate allowing dogs water access at Lighthouse Park and between 38 and 30 Street.

Coun. Jas Payne said he sees no problem with having dog access to the lake at Lighthouse Park, especially after seeing it in action over the summer.

“I spent a lot of time this summer watching the interactions, and I saw dog owners take their pets to Lighthouse Park to play in the water without issue,” Payne said.

He continued to say the area is less used by residents and tourists, especially because of the rocky ground and abundance of plant life.

A concern with the location is its proximity to Lakefront Park and the Aqua Splash set up.

Coun. Teresa Rilling says she isn’t against the location, but is worried about how the area will be informed to help protect residents from overly friendly dogs.

“I’m not saying the dogs who will be there are a danger, but they can get very excited and get away from their owners,” Rilling said, adding the Aqua Splash could draw the attention of pets due to the amount of movement and loud noises.

Payne disagreed, saying there is a natural barrier between the areas that will help to keep the pets in the same area.

Council identified the area between 38 and 39 Street as another possible option for dog access to the water, simply because it is further out and less people are swimming at that end of Lakeshore Drive.

Sylvan Lake Mayor Sean McIntyre identified a third possible option that wasn’t included in the list provided by staff. He wanted to work with Sylvan Lake’s neighbours, the Summer Villages of Jarvis Bay and Norglenwold, to identify possible locations within their borders.

“It may end up they don’t have a place that could be used for the purpose, and that is fine, but they should be included before we officially take options to the public,” McIntyre said.

Town Council has been asked on numerous occasions about the possibility of an area for dogs to access the lake during the heat of summer.

Staff and Council had, until now, put off the topic in the hopes a solution would come out of ReIMAGINE Sylvan. Unfortunately, that was not the case.

However, preliminary feed back on dog access to the water was split with half in favour and half in opposition, according to Ron Lebsack, director of community services.

“Alberta Health Services was consulted on their position of a dog access to a lake body of water, specifically Sylvan Lake. The response from Alberta Health Services is that there is no public health concerns for having a dog-friendly beach area,” Lebsack said.

Sections 15 and 16 of the Alberta Government’s General Regulation prohibits dogs from being in a beach area and requires them to be leashed. However, there is no regulations that Town staff could find about access away from a beach area.

Town staff will be further investigating the options given by Town Council before beginning public engagement on the topic.

Council is expect to make a decision on dog access to the water no later than April 30, 2019.

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