A challenge to find good things to say about council’s policies, programs

Mayor Samson should go lightly on comments about Sylvan Lake’s glass “definitely being half full”.

Dear Editor,

Mayor Samson should go lightly on comments about Sylvan Lake’s glass “definitely being half full”. (Mayor encourages crowd to embrace change; SLN, Nov 1).

If the mayor says the glass is half full she also declares it half empty. There’s not much to brag about in being in the middle of a continuum. If Sylvan Lake is neither a generally wonderful nor generally deplorable place then words like ‘tepid’ and ‘blah’ capture its spirit. To think the mayor delivered a motivational speech extolling ‘blah!’

As for glasses half full, the mayor has presided over the town’s descent from being a once vibrant, attractive, glass-mostly-full place to live and play, to the current dispirited town confused about its current identity and direction.

The implied flip side of the mayor’s glass-half-full analogy is that people who disagree with her and council’s ideas are members of the glass-half-empty crowd; ornery, sour sorts who see only negatives in life. That may be the mayor’s distorted thinking but it’s not reality. Safe to say most residents of Sylvan Lake are desperate to find good things to say about many of council’s policies and programs. It’s a challenge. In fairness public angst spills beyond town limits to areas of provincial jurisdiction that nevertheless impact the citizens of Sylvan Lake; things relevant to the discussion because of council’s complicity in provincial decisions. The Hwy. 11-781 and Memorial Trail fiascos are cases in point.

Determining who is most accountable for the hare-brained decision to implement right in -right out design at the Hwy. 11-781 intersection is maddening. Two things are clear however: Alberta Transportation authorized and constructed it, and town council either actively requested the design, or tacitly accepted it. The multi-million dollar Memorial Trail and associated intersections are costly new infrastructure requirements flowing from the intersection ‘solution’. Public anger at both Alberta Transportation and town council is understandable and justified, and much, much too polite!

Back within town limits, successive councils sacrificed having a dynamic town business core for the seductive lure of inviting box stores and their bulging tax revenues. As a result the downtown business core is nearly dead with little immediate relief in sight. The soulless box stores sit either in soulless isolation or soulless clusters on the east side of town, siphoning local money into national and multinational company coffers.

Beach access from 34 St. to 44 St. along Lakeshore Drive — about half of the total — has been all but eliminated due to removal of parking and installation of retaining walls. Bad enough that council installed grotesquely inappropriate speed bumps on Lakeshore Drive; it now fails to make the road contractor correct excessive slopes on some bumps. What a negative message irregular road construction must make on visitors ‘ambushed’ by unexpected variations.

Citizens read of building and development regulations tortuously bent to either accommodate or thwart one developer or another. The current condominium and marina project seems to be an example, among others, of heroic accommodation.

Mayor Samson may be satisfied with a cup-half-full but citizens are left wanting.

Everett Gratrix,

Sylvan Lake

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