Lacombe County has added another two potential boat launch sites to its review of Sylvan Lake access.
The county has committed to finding a way to improve access to the lake and take some of the pressure off Sunbreaker Cove, which is already overcrowded on sunny weekend days.
In March, council voted to hire an engineering firm to look at ways to expand Sunbreaker Cove’s launch and whether a new boat launch could be built at Kuusamo Krest on the northwest end of the lake.
However, county administration is recommending that the county cast its net further. Expanding the search could boost the $132,000 contract with consultants MPE Engineering to between $175,000 and $184,000.
County commissioner Terry Hager said residents will question why some sites were chosen over others and it makes sense for the county to ensure it has taken a good look at all potential locations.
Staff have identified two other locations, where the county has road access, that might be suitable. One of the additional sites is weaker than the other because of the location of train tracks, he said.
Administration may be able to eliminate it after more review. The other has more possibilities and some engineering work should be done to see how it stacks up to the sites being considered.
Hager said sites will be evaluated based on whether adequate parking could created, their accessibility and whether it is a good spot to put boats in the lake.
County Reeve Terry Engen said the municipality would not be doing its due diligence if it did not look at all locations where additional launches could be reasonably built.
Engen anticipated the county faces an “uphill battle” at the Kuusamo Krest site, where residents have already expressed reservations about encouraging more access.
One of the possibilities being considered is creating one launch for motorized boats and a separate one for those launching canoes, kayaks or other non-motorized watercraft.
Residents have already taken their concerns to administration and have met with Keith Stephenson, the councillor representing that area. Stephenson supported the move to put more sites on the short list.
Residents are worried about the impact of a boat launch on nearby property owners, wildlife habitats and lake health as a whole. The site is too shallow, remote from existing developments, and is served by a poor road system, they say.