Engineering firm to study Sylvan Lake boat access options

Lacombe County will hire an engineering firm to pinpoint ways to improve boat access on Sylvan Lake.

Lacombe County will hire an engineering firm to pinpoint ways to improve boat access on Sylvan Lake.

“We’ve always recognized, and have for a long time, that we’re short on access,” said County Reeve Terry Engen on Thursday. The county is now taking the initiative to look at how Sunbreaker Cove boat launch can be expanded and where another launch site can be located.

Exploring the options for Sunbreaker Cove boat launch and building a new launch at Kuusamo Krest will be the first job of MPE Engineering, which has branches in Red Deer, Calgary, Medicine Hat and Lethbridge. The contract is worth up to $132,000, but that number could go up or down depending on the work the county wants done.

Finding a way to improve access to Sylvan Lake has been an ongoing issue for years. An existing launch at Sunbreaker Cove is already swamped with boaters on a nice summer day. The county spent about $200,000 in 2008 to improve parking areas at the launch, but the work did not involve adding more launch capacity.

Kuusamo Krest is also being looked at as a possible future boat launch site. The location is seen as a good candidate because the county already owns land in the area.

However, nearby residents have raised concerns about that location because of the impact on property owners, wildlife habitats and lake health as a whole. The site is also too shallow, remote from developments and the area road system is poor, said residents in a written presentation to county council.

Representatives from Kuusamo Krest are expected to meet on Tuesday with county staff and the councillor for the area, Keith Stephenson, to discuss their concerns.

Councillor Cliff Soper cautioned council to make it clear that the engineering contract does not mean that the county has decided to build at Kuusamo Krest. County staff will continue to search of other locations where there is room for a launch and parking.

Reeve Engen also stressed that Thursday’s decision does not mean a new launch has been approved. “This is by no means a go-ahead to start construction on a site.”

MPE is expected to review the top sites, undertake design work and supervise construction. The actual cost of expanding and building boat launches has not been established. A boat launch built on Pigeon Lake several years ago cost $500,000, says a report to council.

pcowley@bprda.wpengine.com