As the clock ticked through March, warm weather provided some scares for the dedicated volunteers who were spearheading the “Take It Off!” campaign to make sure Sylvan Lake’s surface was clear of fishing shacks before the break-up of ice.
But, it could be said, Mother Nature co-operated right through to the last minute.
And 99 per cent of the anglers showed their respect for the environment they treasure for enjoying their pastime.
When the end of fishing season was reached March 31st, there were just five ‘shacks’ or ‘trailers’ left on the ice surface. Considering the ‘village’ that was there through the winter season, that’s a great response.
However, only 100 per cent is good enough. Alberta Environment representatives pulled four of the remaining five off the lake and recorded the licence number of the fifth – a partial truck-trailer, so the owner could be contacted.
As weather warmed again last week, that black eyesore, scrawled with graffiti, remained in its place on the ice. The ‘window of opportunity’ for moving it was quickly closing.
Norglenwold Deputy Mayor Beverly Anderson and Sylvan Lake Mayor Susan Samson were both “sick about this type of irresponsible behaviour and lack of respect to a precious resource”, according to an email sent by Samson to partner municipalities on the Sylvan Lake Management Committee. She was seeking approval to have the “very toxic ice hut” towed from the lake and impounded. Samson also provided information to the RCMP so they could contact the owner.
By late Sunday it had been removed without committee members having to get involved.
We could feel the relief in Samson’s last email message to the group when she reported the menace had been removed.
This program is a case of a problem being recognized by a group of people concerned about our lake’s health, work taking place over the past two seasons, and finally a result which was desired by all. Everyone involved is to be heartily applauded for their work on this issue.
The committee’s work has also been recognized with two awards. Alberta Urban Municipalities’ Association presented the group with the Municipal Sustainability Award and the Association of Summer Villages of Alberta presented it with the McIntosh Bulrush Award last fall.
But their job is not done yet. Until the provincial government requires all huts on lakes in our province to be registered, so owners can be identified and consequences applied when they abandon their shelters at the end of the season, there will be a few who shrug off their responsibility and disregard the fragile environment which we cherish.