Palm Cove given go-ahead

A controversial development on Sylvan Lake has been given the go-ahead by Lacombe County, although a proposed boat launch has been sent back to the drawing board.

A controversial development on Sylvan Lake has been given the go-ahead by Lacombe County, although a proposed boat launch has been sent back to the drawing board.

Reeve Ken Wigmore said council felt there was not enough public consultation on the plan to build a boat launch at the end of a county range road next to the 59-lot Palm Cove project north of the Summer Village of Sunbreaker Cove. The developers have been asked to hold a public open house to discuss the future of the launch, which the county wants to see built to take pressure off existing boat ramps.

Wigmore said the county also wants to see the developers do more consulting with Alberta Sustainable Resource Development and the federal Department of Fisheries and Oceans.

“It has not been solved out,” said Wigmore.

Residents on the nearby Palm Bay Road have voiced their opposition to locating the launch nearby, complaining it will create noise and traffic problems and could damage the lake environment.

The boat launch remains the only outstanding issue. Last week, council approved the concept plan, a development agreement and rezoning of 95 acres for the development.

The boat launch was originally slated for a different part of the Palm Cove development. But concerns about its impact on the lake prompted the developers to move it to a nearby range road, which already serves as an informal boat launch for area residents.

Wigmore said if there is enough opposition to the proposed location, the county may consider allowing a boat launch to be built somewhere else on the lake. The developers would be expected to contribute financially.

“We will not let them off the hook. They will either supply us with a boat launch there or funds to help us find one someplace else.”

The lack of lake access has been a growing concern among area residents, who have complained that existing boat launches are overcrowded. To ease the pressure on existing facilities, the county requires new housing developments with lake frontage to provide some sort of lake access.

Brad Armstrong, land development manager for Qualico Communities, said they still need to discuss with the county how best to go about getting more public input.

“We’re not sure at this point whether we’re going to be driving that or whether the county is going to be leading it,” he said.

“It will be a partnership. We’ve been working really closely with the county on the entire development.”

Armstrong said they want to ensure that local landowners are on board.

“It’s a spectacular piece of land. But the last thing that we want to do is have a negative impact on adjacent landowners,” he said.

“We’re hoping we’ll be able to find a solution or find some options or alternatives that’s going to work for everybody.”

While the boat launch issue is worked out, the development can proceed. It is hoped construction could start this fall and the first lots may be ready by late next summer.

The development will feature an extensive trail system, interpretative program, beach and a marina.

Graeme Strathdee, president of the Sylvan Lake Watershed Stewardship Society, is pleased that another look is being taken at the boat launch.

The society opposed the project at an earlier public hearing because the area is an environmentally sensitive one where fish and waterfowl breed.

Strathdee said while they would rather see no boat launch in the area, an alternative may be to create a boat launch that is aimed at low-horsepower fishing boats and not speedboats and other more disruptive watercraft.

Strathdee also said developers and the county may have difficulty finding another suitable location on the north side of the lake because most spots are similarly environmentally fragile.

Another consideration is the cost. It doesn’t make sense to spend millions on a boat launch that will only be used during the few good boating days each year.

— copyright Red Deer Advocate

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