Lacombe County’s new parking and boat launch fees at Sandy Point on Gull Lake are scaring away boaters and fishers, says a developer.
Lance Dzaman, co-owner of Sandy Point Resort and RV Park, said in an Aug. 26 letter to council that “boat launch use has declined by between 30 and 80 per cent depending on the day of the week and time of day.”
In the past few years, 10 to 15 fishers a day would use the launch to get on the lake.
“Since the pay for use was brought in this traffic has all but disappeared,” Dzaman wrote. “I can certainly understand how the guys that fish regularly do not want to pay $20/day or even pay for the season pass.”
In past summers, the boat launch had to be closed almost every weekend after it reached capacity. “Weekend traffic this entire summer has never seen the demand high enough to close the boat launch due to being at capacity.
“The beach occupancy has also dropped by about the same amount. Not one day this year has the beach reached full capacity.
“I am asking council to seriously reconsider their views on charging for use of amenities here at Sandy Point.”
In April, county council approved charging fees beginning May 1 at Sandy Point Beach and Sandy Point Boat Launch on the west side of Gull Lake and Sunbreaker Cove Boat Launch at the north end of Sylvan Lake.
The motive was to raise enough to cover the $135,000 annual cost of maintaining and running the facilities.
That figure does not include future road paving costs and the cost of replacing and repairing equipment and facilities over time, says the county. All of the money generated from the new fees will go to cover current and future costs.
Parking at Sandy Point Beach now costs $3 per hour or $15 per day. At Sandy Point and Sunbreaker Cove boat launches, the fee is $20 a day to launch and park, $10 for launch only and $10 for an additional vehicle with no trailer. The fees can be paid through the HotSpot Parking App.
The yearly rate for Sandy Point Beach is $120, Sandy Point and Sunbreaker Cove boat launches and parking is $160 and Sandy Point and Sunbreaker Cove launching only permit is $80.
Dzaman, who also wants to see a dedicated power cart trail approved for his development, said he hoped to discuss the issues with council “in hopes of coming to some sort of arrangement that will work for all.”
Coun. Allan Wilson was open to discussing the issue.
“I just want to say he’s got some valid points there,” said Wilson, whose division includes Sandy Point.
Wilson said he was surprised at how much the numbers of people going to Sandy Point had dropped. “Whether it’s due to parking, inflation or people tightening their wallets, I don’t know.”
Council plans to discuss parking and launch fees as part of a review of the initiative at an upcoming committee of the whole meeting.