Thank goodness many Sylvan Lake News readers take time to write letters to the editor expressing views on political events and trends around town. As British Parliamentarian Edmund Burke famously said, “All that is needed for evil to prevail is for good men to do nothing.” Letters, then, are the sign of a healthy and vibrant community, if not of democracy itself.
Recently two letter writers chided others for criticizing Sylvan Lake Town Council and provincial politicians and civil servants (Criticize only after gathering all the facts; June 14 and Sylvan Lake observations – a positive viewpoint;July 7). Both writers have written similar letters before. Whether they are merely volunteer apologists, or paid lobbyists for council and provincial politicians and civil servants is unimportant. The question is why so many townspeople are upset with Sylvan Lake’s town council and provincial, even federal politicians and civil servants?
There are reasons.
Town council has spent several years dismantling the beach and cottage industry beloved by generations of Albertans, to pursue dreams of an upscale four-story condominium-and-coffee shop resort catering to the affluent. Nothing wrong with a trendy resort, of course, except this is Sylvan Lake not Mexico or Hawaii with their year-round warm climates. Who will pay tourist rates for residential condos or patronize trendy coffee shops outside of the dozen or so warm lake weekends per year that attract tourists? Sensible Sylvan Lake residents see folly in such dreams.
The level of pigheadedness among provincial politicians and civil servants is practically off the chart. Alberta Transportation’s (AT) right in – right out ‘solution’ at the Hwy. 11/781 intersection illustrates the point. Instead of investing $200-$300,000 in traffic lights that would have drastically improved traffic safety, AT insisted on closing the intersection to north-south traffic and installed sightline impeding signs and cables on Hwy. 11.
That meant northbound Hwy. 781 traffic had to be shunted to the Hwy. 11/20 intersection with the missing eastbound left turn signal. The risk of collision there soared because of the increased traffic volumes and the fact there is room for only two eastbound vehicles at a time to turn left into the median, where they wait to dart through westbound traffic against a red light. All these Hwy11/781/20 solutions necessitated spending nearly $5 million on building/upgrading Memorial Trail to handle disrupted traffic flows.
AT ignored massive public protests about the Hwy. 11/781 closure, turned a blind eye to ensuing social disruption and brushed off losses suffered by local businesses. The scorecard to date? ‘Fixed’ intersections at Hwy 11/781/20 intersections that are as dangerous as, or more dangerous than the old ones, a justifiably enraged public and millions of tax dollars down the toilet prematurely or unnecessarily!
If Alberta Environment wanted to solve the high lake level problem it could, easily. Clean out and maintain the outlet from Sylvan Lake as far southward as necessary for water to flow freely.
Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO) recently declared (Clearing outlet creek to reduce lake level not an option for this year, June 28) the lake outlet area can not be disturbed anytime soon because fish spawn there. What? Where were Oceans and Fisheries when the entire outflow area was filled in for development and the outlet stream ditched along Hwy. 20? The fish apparently survived that assault. Clean the outlet and the waterway!
If the two apologists who enjoy talking down to others considered the evidence they might concede that council, provincial politicians and civil servants are earning the criticism they are getting.