A disappointed Sylvan Lake town council heard on Monday that rebuilding Sylvan Lake’s beach would cost more than $900,000.
On top of that, another $240,000 would have to be spent every two years to maintain a 15-metre strip of sand, said Ron Lebsack, director of community services.
Mayor Sean McIntyre acknowledged the price tag made the project a non-starter for council, but he has not given up hope.
The mayor proposed a motion, which was unanimously approved by council, to lobby the provincial government to maintain and restore the beach that is part of Sylvan Lake Provincial Park.
“It’s really our last avenue as far as I see it,” he said.
McIntyre said the loss of the beach means some town residents travel to other lakes to enjoy a day at the beach and he is determined to try to find a way to improve the situation.
“I’m passionate about it and I have not given up on it.”
Town staff researched the cost of dredging to restore the beach, as well as additional expenses such environmental and engineering studies and ongoing maintenance, as background for a proposed survey to gauge public support for a beach project.
Getting the public’s support was necessary to even begin the process of applying for the necessary provincial approval to dredge the lake.
Dredging alone would cost about $720,000 based on the estimated need to move 24,000 cubic metres of sand to restore an 800-metre long beach.
Given the cost, staff recommended the town abandon the project.
Coun. Jas Payne expressed frustration that there seems to be no way to convince the province to fix a problem that was mostly created by its decision to build a sea wall in the mid-1970s.
The building of the wall has caused wave action to push the sand back into the lake. High lake levels have further exacerbated the problem.
But even lake levels returned to previous levels, the beach would not return, pointed out McIntyre. Photos of the beach in 1988 show the sand was only 30 to 45 centimetres below the sea wall. Now, the sand is as much as 1.2 metres below the top of the wall.
Coun. Plante shared the skepticism of several councillors that lobbying will budge the province’s reluctance to do anything to fix the beach.
“I’m not convinced we’re going to get anywhere with this.”
Plante suggested the town take the “path of least resistance” and focus its attention on building a new beach above the sea wall as a second-best option.