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Proposed marina, boat launch for Sylvan would ease pressure

A new 250-slip marina and boat launch is planned for Sylvan Lake, where overcrowding at the existing launch has been a long-running problem.

Local firms Bear Development Corp. and Lakeview Contracting have partnered to build the proposed floating marina for a site in front of the Bear-owned Chateau Suites. The boat launch would be located nearby on a site next to Wild Rapids Waterslide Park, which will remain.

Bear Development president Bert Messier said the project has been in the works for some time and he has been meeting with provincial and federal departments to line up necessary approvals, which are still to come.

“So far, the response from everybody has been very positive,” said Messier, who presented his proposal to town council at its Monday night meeting. “I think that the response we had last night is positive.

“We’ve been told for so many years that we need a public marina — which it will be.”

Mayor Susan Samson is among those expressing enthusiasm for the project.

“This has been absolutely fabulous news for the Town of Sylvan Lake because we know that access to the water has always been limited, and we know that’s a huge component of our tourist industry,” said Samson on Tuesday.

Sylvan Lake has long wrestled with how to improve access to the lake. The town’s only launch is often backed up on the choicest boating days and parking is in short supply.

“This will take significant pressure off having only one marina,” she said.

That 179-slip marina and boat launch is currently being refurbished as part of the $16-million WatersEdge Condominiums and Marina development by the partners of Sylvan Lake Harbour.

It has long been known that a private sector solution was needed to fix lake access problems.

The province has shown no interest in building a boat launch and the town doesn’t have the cash, she said.

Messier said most of the slips will be for permanent rental but about 30 or 40 will be for temporary day or weekend use.

Considerable expense has already gone into a business plan and engineering and design work on the project that is expected to cost somewhere in the $3-million range when complete, he said.

The floating boat slips will be anchored to screw piles to meet environmental requirements. Off season the slips will be moved to shallow water near the shore. A floating breakwater that can be lowered underwater for the winter is also proposed.

The boat launch will be built next to the waterslide and will include bathrooms and storage spaces.

Messier said word about the project has already gotten out among the boating community and more than 40 people have signed up for slips.

“I don’t think it’s going to take that long to get rid of those slips,” he said.

To ensure commitment, a priority reservation application has been developed requiring a deposit. When the project is ready, boat owners will buy a renewable five-year licence to use the marina and pay an annual fee. It’s a system that has worked well at other marinas, he said.

At this point, Messier cautions the marina is not yet a done deal. “It’s proposed. But it’s 75 per cent of the way home.”

If all goes well, it could be ready for next boating season.

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