Sylvan Lake still looking into ways to restore beach

Sylvan Lake town council has not thrown in the beach towel yet in its quest to bring the sand back.

Sylvan Lake town council has not thrown in the beach towel yet in its quest to bring the sand back.

Despite less-than-encouraging responses from local provincial parks officials about the likelihood of getting permission to somehow restore the beach, the town has continued to investigate all possibilities.

On Monday night, council received a report on the process that the town would have to go through to get a beach project before provincial decision makers.

The first step required is to undertake a public engagement plan to determine how much support there is among Albertans for a beach restoration project.

However, several councillors were taken aback by the estimated $25,000 price tag to hire consultants to both poll local residents and others across the province and create a report.

Many were concerned that the money could be spent with no guarantee the province was any more inclined to support changing the waterline than previously.

Coun. Dale Plante said if the town is going to spend that kind of money he wants to see something tangible come out of it.

Coun. Matt Prete believes it’s worth following the process outlined by the province.

“I think there’s a little crack in the door,” he said, suggesting that in politics issues can remain alive for a long time and new people may look at projects differently.

“I don’t want to give up too soon.”

A beach restoration project could be pitched as a necessary measure to ensure the seawall remains intact, he said.

Mayor Sean McIntyre said in the last 18 months the prospect of pursuing permission to restore a beach has come up three times and each time council has shown its support.

He estimates 98 per cent of local people he has spoken to want to see the beach return somehow.

“I think it’s important we continue our fight to see the beach restored.”

Council opted for a compromise. It approved spending up to $15,000 to hire consultants to gauge local support for a beach project.

If there is not enough support in town, proceeding with a province-wide consultation would be a waste of time they suggested.

The survey is expected to take place this summer and be complete by the fall.

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