Park should be kept simple, easy to maintain; question need for parking

I refer to Laverne Asselstine’s letter in last week’s Sylvan Lake News.

Dear Editor,

I refer to Laverne Asselstine’s letter in last week’s Sylvan Lake News. Recent members of the community may be interested in the following short history.

In part, the area in question includes some of the disused CP railway lands. They stretch from Highway 20 in the east to 60th Street (RR 15) in the west. When CPR ceased to operate the railway in the 1970s it was always the intent of the town to obtain the lands for the purpose of a linear park.

In 2004 a Calgary developer submitted a plan to the town to build in excess of 200 dwellings. The development was known as “Greenways”. Briefly, the citizens of Sylvan Lake clearly stated they wanted the lands for a linear park and nothing else.

Following several public meetings the developer withdrew stating “he was not aware of the strength of feeling in the community”. Mayor Lambertson led a delegation to CPR that led to the purchase of some 35 acres of land for $500,000 — the whole of the disused railway lands was now part of Sylvan Lake. Mayor Lambertson described it as probably the best land deal he had ever negotiated.

There followed a considerable period where conceptual drawings were produced by the town in an effort to develop some of these lands. Citizens stood fast and the land has been developed as a linear park and trail. It is difficult to put a valued figure on this land but it forms the basis of the modern development of Sylvan Lake. In time all other trails will lead from or return to this original trail, nothing must be done to lose any part of it.

Some years ago, as I recall, the town put out a survey for completion, asking the community what facilities they would like to see included on the trail. It was to tick boxes in preference for certain facilities.

In respect of the conceptual drawings for Ryders Ridge/Vistas Park I note that many of those suggestions have been included in the drawings. I question each suggestion, primarily the need for car parking, within the area. For years this was a bolt hole that had its share of problems, much of it caused by the access of vehicles.

As you are aware, the development of the trail to the west of Main Street has been mainly completed in what I would describe as a simple and practical design that is easy to maintain. It is well used by all ages at all times of the year and I hear nothing but praise. Although, the subject of the removal of dead trees, for safety reasons, is regularly mentioned, that subject should be considered for the whole of the trail system.

Therefore, I respectfully ask that further consideration of the need for this park should be given. I believe it should be kept simple and easy to maintain, keeping all aspects of safety a priority.

John Walsh,

Sylvan Lake