The Town of Sylvan Lake has its eyes on its waterfront provincial park.
A request is being made to the provincial government to turn over the the shoreline park to the town. A similar deal was made in 2009 when Centennial Park, which is on the south side of the present boardwalk, was transferred to the municipality.
Taking over the park is seen by town council as an opportunity to diversify the economy and boost public recreation and tourism.
“The transfer of land will increase access to the lake, create opportunities to better manage park visitor experience, and contribute to the ongoing municipal efforts to expand the local tourism economy,” says Mayor Sean McIntyre, in a statement.
“We’re anticipating a complete, integrated plan for the entire waterfront area, with the goal of ensuring quality public access to the lakefront.”
As part of the deal, the town will also ask the Alberta government for $1.96 million, which would cover future upkeep costs.
“We don’t want to put any burden on our ratepayers,” said Joanne Gaudet, town communications officer. For the last four years, the town has maintained the park through a contract with the province. New washrooms built by the province in 2008 are also maintained by the town.
The town sees a lot of untapped potential in the lakefront area. Council agreed to buy the 3.5-acre former Wild Rapids Waterslides site for $4.9 million earlier this year.
Turning it into some sort of public amenity is the long-term plan. The town plans to undertake an extensive public consultation process before redeveloping the site, which includes a large parking lot.
Besides giving the town more control over a key local feature, transferring park ownership would simplify jurisdictional issues. For instance, someone applying to run a paddleboard business would have to get a town business licence as well as provincial approval.
Managing nuisance pets is also more complicated because the town’s enforcement staff don’t have jurisdiction in the park.
The town hopes to have an agreement worked out by the province in time for next beach season.