Town of Sylvan Lake has officially taken charge of its popular lakeshore park.
Alberta Minister of Environment and Parks Shannon Phillips announced the transfer of the park’s ownership to the town on Thursday.
The move allows the town to fully implement its Sustainable Waterfront Area Redevelopment Plan, which will bolster tourism and economic opportunities in the community. The transferred land will no longer be designated as a provincial park.
“Albertans love Sylvan Lake Provincial Park,” says Phillips in a statement accompanying the announcement.
“This transfer will ensure the park remains available to the hundreds of thousands of visitors who flock there every year, while also giving the Town of Sylvan Lake the opportunity to fully explore the economic benefits that tourism to the park can bring.”
Mayor Sean McIntyre said taking over the park will be good for the community.
“We are grateful for the provincial support of our efforts to increase access to Sylvan Lake, create opportunities to manage park visitor experience, and to contribute to our ongoing efforts to strengthen our local economy,” says 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.”
Creating a municipal park gives the town the ability to promote, license and manager waterfront business activity. Having municipal and provincial parks side by side had created additional red tape and complicated the approval process for those with lake-focused business opportunities and for special events.
As owner of the park, the town can now authorize and manage special events on the lakeshore and promote tourism and economic development initiatives.
An average of 760,000 people visit the Town of Sylvan Lake between July and August each year.
The economic impact of tourism for the town is just under $75 million per year.
Annual employment related to tourism is approximately 600 people.
About 72 businesses in Sylvan Lake are related to tourism and recreation and tourism employs about 600 people a year.
A 60-day public consultation period showed considerable support for the transfer. The terms of the transfer ensure the land must remain as public recreation property and cannot be sold or leased for an alternate use, including commercial and residential development.
The transfer comes after a $4.5-million expansion of Jarvis Bay Provincial Park that will revamp campsites, improve RV access and overhaul water, sewage and electrical infrastructure. The upgrades are the first in over four decades, which will eventually add 130 new campsites.