No fee for out-of-towners at Sylvan Lake

The two beach communities are different, explains town chief administrative officer

While the City of Chestermere is charging non-residents to enjoy beach time, those heading out to Sylvan Lake won’t have to worry about paying for some time in the sun.

Sylvan Lake chief administrative officer Wally Ferris said the two beach communities are different from one another.

Chestermere’s beach doesn’t have a paid parking program, unlike Sylvan Lake, noted Ferris.

“Their beach is quite a bit differently laid out, where they’re able to fence it and (have) controlled access.

“Our beach is long and linear – about 2.5 kilometres long – so for us to control public access to that area will be very difficult,” said Ferris.

Chestermere is charging non-resident families $40 and individual adults $15 to access the beaches.

In a release, the city said it has implemented capacity limits at the beaches to ensure visitors are safe.

Early in July, the Town of Sylvan Lake started shutting down the parking lots around the beach once they are full to prevent overcrowding.

Ferris said that has helped the town control the weekend crowds. That enforcement will be in place during the long August weekend.

The town will also shut down Lakeshore Drive from 46th to 50th Street to increase pedestrian capacity. The decision was made after talking to businesses in the area, said Ferris.

Most of the summer beach-goers come from Edmonton, Calgary and Red Deer, said Ferris.

“And about 73 per cent of tickets that were handed out last week were for out-of-towners,” said Ferris, adding tickets were issued for municipal bylaw and other public infractions such as drinking, smoking and speeding.

The number of active COVID-19 cases in Sylvan Lake was at five on Thursday.

“Any number associated to COVID is concerning for us, as it should be for all of Alberta. We would be concerned if we had one case,” said Ferris.

Last weekend, the beach was crowded, but groups were respectful and people were physical distancing, Ferris said.

“We continue to provide education and masks.”

“We’re not going to enforce our way out of a pandemic, so if we see opportunities to educate people around physical distancing, we do that.

“Bylaw officers have masks provided by the province and we hand those out to groups that don’t have them or wish to have them.”

Ferris said the message to those going to Sylvan Lake beach “is to come, enjoy what we have to offer here, support our local businesses, but do so responsibly.

“Follow the provincial guidelines, maintain social distancing and wash your hands. Don’t come if you’re sick.”

There will be an increased RCMP presence, along with an increased number of bylaw and peace officers, on the waterfront on the long weekend, said Ferris.

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