Construction on man-made beach to begin

Sylvan’s beach is making a comeback of sorts.

Sylvan’s beach is making a comeback of sorts.

Near-record water levels have kept the usual strip of sand under the waves for the past few seasons.

But construction of a man-made beach at the southeast corner of the pier is set to begin after weeks of delays.

The project was supposed to have been completed earlier this summer but was foiled by water — this time persistent rains. It was hoped the rectangular manufactured beach would be ready for the Canada Day weekend, but the job was postponed because the contractor couldn’t guarantee it would be done in time.

Rather than face a potential beach construction zone on one of the busiest weekends of the year, the work was delayed until today, when crews will begin excavating the beach area. Sand will be trucked in the following day and the project is expected to be finished on Friday, weather permitting.

Council voted in the last budget to put $25,000 into the project.

However, one town councillor said on Monday he would like to see beach building given a bigger boost.

Dale Plante, who has announced he will run for mayor in the October municipal elections, said he’s gauging whether there’s local support for creating a beach the length of the provincial park behind the retaining wall.

A five-to-six-metre strip of sand could be created without removing any trees or existing walking paths, he said.

“It would basically safeguard us. No matter what the water levels are, we’d always have a beach to enjoy.”

Plante acknowledges the project would not come cheap. He estimates it could cost up to $500,000 and there would have to be buy-in from the town, the province, which owns the provincial park, local residents and the business community.

Offsetting the cost would be the benefit to the town and its tourism industry by having a beach that isn’t vulnerable to climate and natural weather cycles.

In the 1970s and ’80s, the town dredged up sand to restore the beach each spring. Alberta Environment has said that practice would not be approved today.