Section of Sylvan shoreline loses protected status

One hundred and 50 metres of Sylvan Lake’s shore and lake bed has been removed from provincial park status, spurring concerns about its potential development.

One hundred and 50 metres of Sylvan Lake’s shore and lake bed has been removed from provincial park status, spurring concerns about its potential development.

The short water-covered stretch between Chateau Suites hotel and the Wild Rapids Waterside was reclassified this month by the provincial government. What was formerly protected park space was turned into “public land” by an order-in-council.

This means the watery area could be developed some day, if permission is obtained from all three levels of government — the federal Fisheries and Oceans Department, Alberta Sustainable Resources Development and the Town of Sylvan Lake.

Town Mayor Susan Samson has no idea whether some kind of commercial pier or boat dock would ever be proposed for the 150 metres, but she still has misgivings about removing the area from park protection.

“We have a very limited shoreline as it is, and with an increase in (tourist) usage, I would be reluctant to see any change there,” Samson said.

Alberta Tourism, Parks and Recreation Minister Cindy Ady first proposed making the change after touring the provincial park along on Sylvan Lake about a year ago. Ady questioned the benefit of holding onto the 150 metres when it’s separated from the other provincial park land along Sylvan Lake by the Chateau Suites hotel.

After some public input, the provincial government decided the water-covered fragment wasn’t needed as park space, said Camille Weleschuk, a spokesperson for Alberta Tourism, Parks and Recreation.

While commercial developments can spring up on public land, Weleschuk said applicants must first obtain approval from all three levels of government.

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