Beach improvements, new public docks and better lake access are among the upgrades recommended in a new Sylvan Lake usage strategy.
The detailed plan maps out a vision for the popular lakefront park and nearby shoreline areas with proposed short-, medium- and long-term improvements.
Developed by Alberta-based Ground Cubed Planning, the Lakefront usage strategy was developed with extensive input from the public, many of whom saw a need for a new public dock to take pressure off the marina, as well as better day and long-term mooring options.
“Many respondents also indicated they would like to see additional sand beach areas, citing overcrowding of sand areas on summer days as a detractor from the area,” says the strategy that was approved by town council Monday.
More public washrooms was another common request.
Ron Lebsack, town community services director, said the next step is to submit the strategy to the province in order to line up a recreation lease.
“We really can’t move forward until we get a recreation lease from the province.”
The province turned the provincial park over to the town in 2018. However, the municipality’s jurisdiction only goes up to the water’s edge.
“We knew that right up front. So, a lot of this study was to provide a plan to the province, so they knew what our intentions were before they gave us a recreation lease.”
Lebsack said they have been in contact with the province throughout the preparation of the plan and getting the lease is not expected to be a problem and could come as early as the summer.
The first projects tackled will likely be relatively minor, such as marking out a swimming line in the bay in front of Chateau Suites, west of the pier, with buoys, and signs to better separate swimmers from motorized water traffic.
Signs indicating a no-wake zone and speed limits will also be placed.
“I think some of the safety aspects will be the first ones we touch on.”
Among the changes that could be coming in future years are a non-motorized boat launch towards the east end of the park, with a formal mooring area next to that. The current informal boat mooring practice was seen as dangerous by some residents.
A barrier-free access point to the lake from the pier is also recommended.
Council has set aside $250,000 in its budget to go towards improvements this year.
Over the next three to five years, a new public dock with short-term mooring could be developed at the west end of the lakefront, as well as next to the mooring area, to allow for pickups and drop offs.
The floating water feature in the bay could be expanded and more lakefront programming is also suggested.
The long-term plans would address a common complaint, the lack of sand on the beach. Removing grass and creating an additional beach area above the retaining wall is an option.