Sylvan Lake extends deadline for beach project

Sylvan Lake visitors likely won’t see a new beach until 2016 at the earliest.

Sylvan Lake visitors likely won’t see a new beach until 2016 at the earliest.

Even making that schedule depends on the province approving the creation of a new stretch of sand in Sylvan Lake Provincial Park.

Bringing back sand in some fashion is a priority for town council.

However, environmental standards have changed significantly since the days when graders were used to dredge up sand each spring to form a new beach. Alberta Environment and Sustainable Resource Development and Alberta Parks are not in favour of any disruption to the lake.

The town hasn’t given up on looking at ways to restore the beach at its original location.

Another option being considered is to create a new beach above the seawall in the provincial park.

Alberta Parks has given the town a list of the steps to be taken to even be considered for approval — and they’re extensive.

A study and report on fish habitat, vegetation, water levels and water quality will be required, as well as engineering reports and an environmental review.

The province also says the town must consult with Albertans.

Before going ahead with what is likely to be a costly application process, council wants to hear from local residents. It hoped to undertake public consultation this fall but staff vacancies and the demands of hosting the Tour of Alberta and Hockeyville pushed that back.

Council approved extending the deadline to hear from local residents to the end of the year.

Town communications officer Joanne Gaudet said a mail-out will be sent to residents later this fall with a code that can be used to access an online survey. Hard copies will also be available at specified locations.

People will be given background on the beach history, and then asked a number of questions about the beach and whether they would support a restoration project of some sort.

If there is widespread support, the town would extend its consultation to the rest of the province.

Council also voted on Monday to extend the deadline for the entire project until the end of October 2016.

Gaudet said the deadline reflects the amount of work the province wants done before it considers a beach application.

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