Boat launch car park coming

A new parking lot is being developed near Sunbreaker Cove boat launch to ease chronic overflow problems.

A new parking lot is being developed near Sunbreaker Cove boat launch to ease chronic overflow problems.

Lacombe County has purchased five acres from a local landowner to provide parking spaces for 50 to 100 vehicles and boat trailers. Now, the launch on the northeast side of Sylvan Lake has room for about 15 trucks and trailers, plus a few other parking spots.

“It’s been an issue out there forever, as far as parking. Hopefully, this alleviates some of the problems,” said Phil Lodermeier, county operations manager.

Construction is expected to begin this year and it is hoped that the parking lot will be ready in time for the busiest sailing season. The project is expected to cost $450,000 to $500,000.

“We were hoping to do it later in the fall but I think that it’s going to get fast-tracked and we’ll try to do it early summer,” said Lodermeier.

Upgrading the launch has become a higher priority because there is a possibility the launch at Sylvan Lake Marina may not be available because of a proposed marina upgrade and condominium project. Developers will go before town council on Monday in hopes of getting the go-ahead for that project, which is expected to cost in the range of $18 million.

Lodermeier said the launch has room for about 15 vehicles and their trailers, plus a few spots for single vehicles.

The biggest downside to the new parking site is that it is about half a kilometre from the launch, meaning drivers will have a lengthy walk back after launching their boats.

“It’s not ideal. But it’s the best we could do,” he said.

“I would eventually think we’ll need to look at how to get people down to the boat launch area,” he said. “We don’t really want them walking on the road. It gets pretty congested.”

The latest project pushes the county’s investment in the launch over the last three years to more than $1 million.

In 2010, about $250,000 was spent improving the parking and picnic areas at the site, including paving, landscaping and adding overflow parking areas.

Last year, just over $350,000 was spent demolishing an existing crumbling boat ramp and replacing it with two new ramps.

Part of the costs for the boat launch upgrades have been covered by contributions from developers in the county.

Meanwhile, the quest to develop another boat launch site on the lake continues. The county has identified a good site on the south side of the lake, but it will require up to $10 million to develop, including an access road.

Funding help from the provincial government would be needed to go ahead.