Water was the dominant theme running through the annual meeting of Norglenwold residents Saturday morning. Whether there will be enough drinking water for future growth, the high lake water level and how to control access to the lake were all topics of discussion.
Councillor Michael Dawe reported Sylvan Lake Regional Water Commission has recently received a report it commissioned on the availability of water for future growth.
“It’s a longer term issue when you’re looking at (projected) growth rates for communities surrounding Sylvan Lake,” he said.
Preliminary findings of the report indicate at current growth rates the aquifers being tapped for drinking water don’t have enough capacity to handle the future.
He indicated that at some stage in the next 10-20 years there will not be enough water from existing wells and the aquifer.
That means the municipalities around the lake may have to go to the Red Deer River for their water supply. Planning now is necessary to have that option available and to get the government to approve an allocation from the river.
David Helmer, regional approvals manager with Alberta Environment, reported on a study conducted for his department on the outlet creek and increasing level of water in Sylvan Lake. Last Friday’s lake level was 937.13 metres, which was a little higher than it was last year on the same day. The lake’s level peaked at 937.308 in mid-August last year beating the previous record set in 1955.
Following a detailed presentation he offered a variety of options. Among them were upgrading the outlet channel, constructing a control structure or maintaining the outlet.
“We’ve asked the Sylvan Lake Management Committee to take over the former role of the Sylvan Lake Advisory Committee and determine what’s the best option for the lake from social, recreational and environmental aspects,” he said.
Councillor Beverley Anderson, who’s chair of the management committee, noted the lake level is “a huge and very serious issue”. They’ve met with government representatives and are working very closely with Alberta Environment to find solutions.
Another topic of debate was boat access to the lake. The summer village has two informal boat access points — at Sylvan Lake and from Range Road 20.
“Council purposely does not enhance these access points as we do not want to encourage more use,” residents were told.
Now that the ‘downtown’ marina is charging $40 to launch and there are parking issues, some users are looking for alternative sites. There’s increasing use happening at both sites.
Residents were told the issue was being raised so they could brainstorm and provide councillors with ideas on what to do.
Among the ideas suggested were increased enforcement of parking (which is being done), erecting a gate at Sylvan Lane and having it open September to June but locked during the summer while providing keys to residents, and building fences to protect adjacent property owners who have complained about misuse of the launches and noise.
Other highlights from the meeting included:
• Mayor Carol McMillan reported the summer villages have commenced an agreement with the Commissionaires to work seven days a week dealing with parking and other issues. They started just after the long weekend in May and will continue until after Labour Day. There’s no parking in ditches as per signs posted and tickets are being written.
• Annexation – Both the summer village and town are interested in annexing from Red Deer County the area north of the former Highway 11A and west of Range Road 1-5 and east of Range Road 2-1. The two municipalities have agreed to partner to prepare a joint land use plan for the area of interest, said McMillan.
• Residents were informed the summer villages are looking at new options for office space after their lease expires in late 2013. The five summer villages have agreed in principle to consider either building their own facility or buying an existing building.
• They were encouraged to support lobbying efforts for an Urgent Care Centre in Sylvan Lake. McMillan reported on work of the task force and indicated the need is for 24-7 non-hospital care with provision for x-ray and laboratory facilities.
“What the task force is finding out is the Family Care Centres the government is proposing, we already have two in town, we need urgent care,” she said.
• Anderson reported on a review of the Land Use Bylaws of the five summer villages to try and get as much consistency as possible among all of them. One of the changes will be the addition of Municipal Planning Commissions to deal with such things as variances and discretionary uses. Other changes will involve heights of accessory buildings, definition of grade, guest houses, a section on length of use of trailers and tree removal. An open house on the changes is planned for July 10 at the summer village office from 5-7 p.m. and then a public hearing is scheduled for the September council meeting.
• Anderson also reported on initiatives of the Sylvan Lake Management committee. The ice fishing hut voluntary registration program was a success with just a couple of huts having to be removed after the season.
The committee is working on a cumulative effects management system in partnership with Alberta Environment to look at the lake as a whole and how development affects the lake from a cumulative aspect.
The final issue is the high water level and David Helmer with Alberta Environment reported on a study for his department (reported above).