Councillors take issue with Sylvan marina, condo project

Not enough environmental work has been done and too little consideration given to public access on a proposed $16.5-million Sylvan Lake marina and condominium project, says Lacombe County.

Not enough environmental work has been done and too little consideration given to public access on a proposed $16.5-million Sylvan Lake marina and condominium project, says Lacombe County.

Planners gave council a rundown on Thursday on the project to expand the Sylvan Lake Marina to 205 slips from 180, increase the size of the boat launch and build three four-storey residential buildings, including one with first-floor shops. A public walking trail and boardwalk are included.

“There are a number of issues with the application,” said planner and development officer Anita O’Driscoll, in introducing a presentation on the development proposal by Sylvan Lake Harbour Ltd.

Among the county’s concerns is the lack of any indication that environmental and storm water studies have been completed. There are also concerns that not enough of the site will be left as open space and too little effort has been made to ensure public access to the privately owned site.

“This is still a pretty private development and . . . our staff doesn’t consider it enhances the area.”

Another issue raised by the county is the proposal to improve the boat launch. Twenty-three public parking spaces, plus another 19 earmarked for the retail spaces, are envisioned. But none of them are big enough for trucks and boat trailers.

County commissioner Terry Hager said parking shortages could send boaters to the county boat launch at Sunbreaker Cove. That site is already packed on the best boating days.

Despite the shortcomings, the development proposal has its merits, suggested Hager. “This plan, we’re not saying it’s all bad. There’re some real positives to it,” he said, citing the marina expansion. “There is some improvement to public access, which is good.”

Council voted unanimously to send a letter to the town recommending that detailed environmental studies, a storm water management plan, and open space plan identifying public access opportunities be completed as part of the application.

Town of Sylvan Lake planner Kim Devlin some of the county’s concerns have been addressed already. The developer has completed an environmental impact assessment for the project. Other issues, such as completion of a storm water management plan, will be addressed through the planning process.

Devlin said the town didn’t pass on to neighbouring municipalities all the work that had been done on the application so far. Devlin said she had spoken to county planners about the project but she wasn’t asked about some of the issues that have become the basis of the county’s concerns.

Normally, the project would have been submitted to the Sylvan Lake Management Committee for comment, rather than to each municipality individually for input. But the committee wasn’t meeting again until next month so it was decided to notify municipal members as a courtesy.

Town planning staff continue to work with the developer on the project. It is expected an open house may be arranged for early December so the public can comment on concept plans. Adjacent landowners will also be consulted.

“There may be modifications made depending on what the comments are as we move forward,” said Devlin.

Once any outstanding issues have been addressed, the application will go — likely in the new year — before the municipal planning commission for approval.

Sylvan Lake Harbour is part of an ownership group led by Red Deer’s Polar Creek Industries Ltd. A spokesman did not respond to a request for comment on Thursday.

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