Aspen Beach has become a slime-covered mess since the province took over maintenance, says a Lacombe County councillor.
The province took over maintenance in the spring of 2018. Since then, Coun. Ken Wigmore has received numerous complaints from rural residents about the state of the beach in the provincial park on Gull Lake.
Residents were irritated that grass cutting fell by the wayside on the province’s watch. Eventually, some of the grass was cut, but some areas that previously got a trim were left to go wild, said Wigmore.
A bigger problem is the beach itself. Water levels are low at Gull Lake, exposing a large strip of former lake bottom between the sandy beach and the water.
The now-exposed area has become a muddy mess, full of clumps of slimy seaweed and other vegetation.
“There is a lot of grunge and slime and crap out there,” said Wigmore. “People are starting to say we’re not going to go out there.”
In the past, the contractor raked the beach to clear it of a lot of the dead vegetation.
Wigmore said he passed on beach-goers’ concerns to Lacombe-Ponoka MLA Ron Orr, and he was reminded of the problems last week, when Orr sat down with council to discuss local issues.
Alberta Environment and Parks spokesman Josh Zarobiak confirmed that grass cutting was reduced this past season to focus on other maintenance needs, “however, the decision was reversed after public feedback expressing concerns with the change.”
Zarobiak said the department is aware of ongoing concerns at Aspen Beach, which is one of 250 campgrounds in the province’s parks system.
“Although Aspen Beach Provincial Park is a high priority for facility upgrades, maintenance funding must be targeted to address our province’s most pressing needs across all ministries, especially during this challenging economic period,” he said in an email.
“An unfortunate occurrence, which is beyond our control at Aspen Beach Provincial Park, is the Gull Lake water level has dropped and created issues with park aesthetics and recreation enjoyment.”
Lacombe County has been trying to arrange a meeting with Environment and Parks Minister Jason Nixon to discuss a variety of issues of local concern, including Aspen Beach. No date has been set yet.