Proliferation of tents near lake concerns council

The popularity of tent-pitching in Sylvan Lake’s parks has drawn the attention of council.

The popularity of tent-pitching in Sylvan Lake’s parks has drawn the attention of council.

Concerns have been raised that the tenting could get out of hand, blocking sight lines, creating park territorial disputes and possibly even creating a safety hazard.

Ron Lebsack, director of leisure and protective services, said the provincial park closest to the water has no limits on tenting other than no overnight stays are allowed. Similar rules are in place in the town’s Centennial Park.

Provincial parks staff and local RCMP have reported no problems of tents being used to hide drinking, drugs or lewd behaviour.

Coun. Dale Plante, who raised the issue at the June 10 council meeting, said there’s a question of whether there is enough space to allow tents to pop up everywhere.

“I think there is a safety issue down there,” said Plante, who wants to see the issue monitored.

Coun. Ken MacVicar said his main concern is that the tenting doesn’t get to the point it is limiting enjoyment of the park for others. He said he’s not against tents but isn’t sure there’s a need to have them in a day-use area.

“I am more concerned with the proliferation,” he said.

Coun. Laverne Asselstine said it’s premature to regulate tents at this time, but it’s something council should take another look at after the summer.

“It’s one thing to have a small wind break, it’s another thing to have a huge party tent,” said Asselstine.

Council heard that some people stretched their tent lines across sidewalks in the Centennial Park, creating a safety issue. There is also a concern that tents could line the shoreline, blocking views for all those behind them.

Sylvan Lake’s beach ambassadors will be asked to take stock of the situation and report back at the end of the summer. Town staff also plan to check with colleagues in other resort communities, such as Penticton and Vernon in B.C., to see whether they have had any problems.