Sylvan Lake marina expansion scaled back

Sylvan Lake’s proposed marina expansion has been scaled back to around 140 slips from early suggestions that about 200 additional spots could be created.

The Town of Sylvan Lake wants to see the proposed expansion of the community’s marina tie into its waterfront redevelopment.

Sylvan Lake’s proposed marina expansion has been scaled back to around 140 slips from early suggestions that about 200 additional spots could be created.

“We did scale it back a little bit,” said Tim Schmidt, the town’s director of planning and development.

There has been local talk about expanding the marina for years and the idea was included in a Waterfront Redevelopment Plan adopted by council in 2008.

Last fall, the town commissioned a marina expansion feasibility study that looked at a couple of potential sites for new slips — next to the existing 180-slip marina, or in front of the Chateau Suites development.

Schmidt said the Chateau Suites site has been dropped and the focus is now on finding the best way to add more room for boats at the existing marina, which is owned by Medicine Hat-based Medican. The development company is working on several condominium projects in the town.

Designs presented to town council recently suggest a breakwater could be built on the west side of the marina that would extend out into the lake and curve to the east to create a calm area for boats. Both long- and short-term slips would be available.

A tentative date for a public information session had been proposed for early June, but that is not likely to happen until July, said Schmidt.

There are a number of environmental assessments underway and consultation with communities around the lake, groups such as the Sylvan Lake Stewardship Society, and with various provincial and federal departments is ongoing. Several different consulting firms are working on the marina proposal.

Once more information is gathered, a report on the marina proposal is expected to go back to town council before a date for the public information session is set.

Schmidt said there is still much work to be done and the decision has not been made on whether to go ahead with the expansion.

“This report will basically tell us whether it’s feasible.”

Who would build and pay for the marina expansion has not yet been determined. Some sort of private-public partnership may ultimately be involved, he said.

Whatever happens, the town will insist that the public have access to the marina and a portion of slips.

Medican’s Sylvan Lake project manager Jim Lawrence said the size of the expansion and whether it goes ahead will depend on how the project is received in the community. There is no point in building only a few additional slips because of the work involved in building a breakwater, he said.

Lawrence said there is considerable environmental work to be done now that the ice is finally out on the lake.

“There is an abundance of information that has to be gathered,” he said.

Lawrence said if council was to approve the project, it would have to go ahead in the form of a public-private partnership that could also involve some funding from higher levels of government.

“It would have to be a P-3. Medican is interested in helping out. Obviously, we’re not in the business of building and operating multimillion-dollar marinas.”

The town wants to see the project tie into its waterfront redevelopment and a promenade could be built to tie the expanded marina into the existing lakeshore area.

Medican has almost sold all of 55 units in Phase 1 of its Axxess entry-level condominium complex recently completed in town north of Hwy 11 and west of Secondary Hwy 781 (50th Street) and is now pre-selling the second 55-unit phase. A third phase will have 59 units.

Another 306-unit project featuring higher-end condominiums, called Watercrest, will be built just to the north. Pre-selling is underway on 70 units included in Phase 1.

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