County aims to preserve recreation amenities as Sylvan Lake expands

Sylvan Lake is a prime target for development and Lacombe County wants to ensure that when the houses come recreational opportunities follow.

Sylvan Lake is a prime target for development and Lacombe County wants to ensure that when the houses come recreational opportunities follow.

In a draft plan going to the public for comment at an open house on Feb. 7, the county outlines what sorts of recreational amenities it expects to see as lake areas are developed.

Anita O’Driscoll, a county planner and development officer, said the Sylvan Lake Parks, Recreation and Open Spaces Plan is designed to provide more detailed guidance on parks, playgrounds, trails and open spaces than found in the Sylvan Lake Area Structure Plan, which guides development around the lake.

Under the area structure plan, developers of multi-lot housing projects must leave 40 per cent of their land as natural open space and another 10 per cent must be preserved as a municipal reserve.

The area structure plan provides developers with direction on providing public access to the lake and boat launches. “But it’s pretty silent in terms of the types of amenities we want to see on Sylvan Lake,” said O’Driscoll.

To determine what types of amenities are required, the county has developed a two-tiered system. The first tier applies to developments within 800 metres (1/2 mile) of the lake. The second tier is for developments further out.

Under the plan, developers will be required to at least one, and in most cases more, of the amenities listed in the plan. Tier 1 developments are expected to build amenities higher-end that takes advantage of their proximity to the lake by providing lake-related recreational opportunities for county residents, such as beaches, marinas, boat launches, lookout points, change rooms or other typical park features such as ice rinks, sports fields and playgrounds.

The county is working on the premise that lakeside developments are more valuable and better able to afford more elaborate amenities.

“One of the biggest things the county hears (from residents) is that they want public access to the lake,” she said. “We want to take advantage of the lake. The county does not want to see it privatized.”

Tier 2 amenities include standard park features like baseball diamonds, basketball courts, soccer fields, playgrounds, toboggan hills, skateparks and other similar amenities.

Also included in the plan is a section on trails, which offers much design guidance. It was hoped the route for a regional trail could be established, but there wasn’t enough stakeholder or public input to do that at this point.

Developers can also use the plan to find out how to deal with the open spaces they are required to preserve in their natural state.

O’Driscoll said the county hopes to get more public feedback at the open house.

A presentation will begin shortly after 7 p.m. followed by a question and answer session at Lacombe County’s office on Hwy 12 just west of Hwy 2. To see the plan go to the county’s website at

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