It has come to my attention again via a news item in the Sylvan Lake News that Red Deer County officials are continuing with a process to close public access to Sylvan Lake via Range Road 21.
Having spoken to our Ward 5 councillor, Richard Lorenz, who is the councillor for the ward in which the “unofficial boat launch” is located, I am quite shocked to find a “public meeting” was held while the ice was still on the lake and those folks that would be most affected weren’t even aware of the meeting. I get the feeling the timing was arranged in order to limit participation by boaters and those who use this access to the lake.
I was surprised to understand the process was initiated by a group from the Summer Village of Half Moon Bay. Can’t help but think the reasons behind this group’s actions with regard to the boat launch at Range Road 21 are influenced by their own feelings as owners of lakefront property that the lake should be the exclusive domain of lakefront property owners only.
How even more surprised I was when I realized this closure of a Red Deer County road is being initiated by a group of people who are in Lacombe County. And if all that wasn’t surprising enough, you can imagine my dismay to be told that the “public” meeting was held without Red Deer County Councillor Richard Lorenz being present, a conflict with him having another meeting to be at. How can it be possible to hold such a meeting without the man that represents that ward present?
Access to a public lake such as Sylvan Lake should be available to the general public, not just those who own lakeshore property.
I notice in this latest article in the Sylvan Lake News that invasive species are now likely to be used as an excuse to limit and/or eliminate public access to the lake at Range Road 21. Eurasian watermilfoil and invasive mussels have been a problem for many years, why suggest closing down access now at Range Road 21?
Does this mean that once successful at closing access at 21 that next will be 23, 20 and Norglenwold? On the south side of Sylvan Lake that would leave only the access at the marina for $40 per launch with no parking for trucks with trailers (which is the only way I know of getting a boat to the lake) except to park along the already congested Lakeshore Drive. The only other launches would then be on the north side of the lake in Lacombe County.
I understand that litter was brought up at the “public meeting” as an issue at the Range Road 21 launch site and I would have to call those comments into serious question and describe them as misleading if not a total crock. As a spring through fall user of this launch 25 to 30 times a year and someone who is quite sensitive to litter, the launch is very clean — it has less litter than our half mile of roadside ditch on Highway 11A and the vast majority of the time none.
If the group spearheaded by the folks at Half Moon Bay are successful using an untruth about litter to close Range Road 21 lake access maybe with pictures of the sacks of litter I pick up over the next year to our place on Highway 11A I could get the county to see if the province would allow the county to limit access to 11A to only those who own property along it in order to reduce trash. Sounds ridiculous doesn’t it, just like removing public access to a public lake on pressure from lakeshore owners is both ridiculous and unbelievable.
If anything, Red Deer County should be improving accesses at 20 and 21 in order to provide the public with good quality lake access, just like those in Lacombe County enjoy now.
RR1 Sylvan Lake
This letter was forwarded to Red Deer County Mayor Jim Wood with a copy to Sylvan Lake News.
Editor’s Note: There are new developments in this story. See stories elsewhere in today’s paper about municipalities around Sylvan Lake banding together to conduct studies about a public launch at Range Road 21 and a separate story from the Half Moon Bay annual information meeting).