Report punts boat launch issue back to municipalities

A draft study does not support locating a boat launch at a controversial site near the Summer Village of Half Moon Bay on Sylvan Lake.

A draft study does not support locating a boat launch at a controversial site near the Summer Village of Half Moon Bay on Sylvan Lake.

Consultants were hired to undertake a detailed study of potential boat launches sites for the lake, which doesn’t have enough access points, creating traffic jams at the few existing launches on prime summer days.

One option that has been considered is at the end of Range Road 2-1 on the east side of Half Moon Bay. The spot had long been a makeshift launch point, generating complaints about traffic, noise and garbage from nearby property owners.

Despite those issues, there was support from others to install parking, washrooms and a formal boat launching area there.

The draft Sylvan Lake Boat Launch Access Strategy and Action Plan for Recreational Lake Access recommends against building a launch ramp at Range Road 2-1, saying it doesn’t meet the minimum design criteria.

A pair of other sites near Norglenwold have various environmental restraints, but those issues could be worked around through good design, the consultants suggest. A third site north of the summer village on a point of land also has potential but would require measures to protect the launch from wind and wave action.

Another site, located within the summer village itself, has been earmarked in Norglenwold’s own plans as a non-motorized launch only.

The most recent study did not include what is likely the top option for a boat launch at the end of Range Road 2-2 in Lacombe County. It is an undeveloped road allowance northwest of Half Moon Bay on the west edge of Scouts Canada’s Camp Woods. That was already examined in a 2010 study that determined it was suitable for a boat launch.

Consultants made no recommendations on which site to pursue. And when, and if, a new boat launch will be built is up to the eight municipalities around the lake that form the Sylvan Lake Management Committee.

“The report highlighted what can be done,” said Phil Lodermeier, Lacombe County manager of operations. “It’s now up to municipalities to decide what’s to be done and how to fund it.”

Range Road 2-2 probably remains the best option, he told council on Thursday.

Coun. Rod McDermand expressed some frustration with how long it has taken to find a way to improve lake access.

“This has been going on forever,” he said, adding all of the studying has cost tax dollars. The most recent study cost about $190,000.

“Sooner or later there has to be something built. This is getting silly. I don’t know how we go on and on and on.”

Coun. Ken Wigmore, who chairs the Sylvan Lake Access Management Steering Committee, said the study is a “great step forward.”

It both provides the necessary planning groundwork needed to go ahead with a launch.

Council voted unanimously to support the draft plan, recommending that the previous study on Range Road 2-2 be included in the final report.

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