We were warned — but it still came as a shock to wake up Sunday morning to the changing seasons.
There was beauty there too, just as there is throughout the year in our environs.
Mist rising off the lake. Honking geese flying overhead in numbers not seen since the spring migration. The grumble of snow shovels brought from their hiding places. And the solitude of quiet as hibernation begins for many.
We spent time Saturday travelling around the lake and along the lakeshore. To our astonishment there were paddleboarders out on the water. It was a little numbing on the feet, Innisfail’s Kelly Rogers, one of the group, admitted as he headed into shore at Petro Beach.
Ice has started to form along the edges of the water, seagulls are congregated just off shore where temperatures must be warmer than on the snow-covered ground of shore.
Things are changing. They’re also changing at town hall as we witnessed during Monday night’s inaugural meeting of newly elected town councillors.
When they got down to business, it wasn’t really a lengthy agenda, compared to some of past months, but they had to vote near the end to extend past three hours so they could accomplish everything before them.
Among the interesting discussions were those centred around which government department representatives councillors would like to meet with when they attend the annual Alberta Urban Municipalities Association convention in mid-November.
Councillor Matt Prete wanted to meet with Alberta Environment to figure out the stages necessary to do something about the lake level so that council could then host a town hall meeting to explain the situation to residents.
Mayor Sean McIntyre asked that they meet with Alberta Transportation “to discuss impacts of change to the 781-11 intersection and learn about future plans for the Highway 20-781 realignment.” He’d like to hear their impression of changes that were made to the intersections.
Interestingly we had a phone call this week from Birchcliff resident Barry Virtue who keeps track of what’s going on with the lake and he said the lake level is down 50 centimetres (19.7”) from its highest point in 2011.
A report on the town’s website indicates that at on Sept. 9 the water level was 936.946. “To put this into perspective, a lake level of 936.27 would see a return of a sandy beach along the retaining wall,” states the post. That’s means it needs to drop another 68 cm.
At 5 a.m. yesterday (Wednesday) it was down further to 936.777. Just over 50 centimetres still to go.
Perhaps as Councillor Graham Parsons suggested, Mother Nature is doing her work and next summer we’ll have a beach again. After all, it continues to be the contention that evaporation accounts for the largest outflow of water from the lake.
It will be interesting to hear back from councillors after they’ve met with Alberta Environment officials and been apprised of work already done and underway by that department in conjunction with Sylvan Lake Management Committee to look at how lake levels can be regulated.
We don’t think the price tags will be appetizing for a council which is already going through a steep learning curve over the next few weeks about projects already underway and those proposed over the longer term which have price tags in the millions.
As with changing seasons, watching them find the right balance will be just as interesting to watch.