Sylvan Lake’s former mayor poured cold water on council’s quest to rebuild the beach.
In its budget passed earlier this week, town council agreed to put aside $100,000 to investigate ways to restore the beach in an environmentally safe manner that would meet provincial scrutiny. High lake levels in recent years have left the beach under water.
Former mayor Susan Samson says in a letter sent as part of a council request for public input on the budget that she is opposed to the idea and the town should “leave the lake alone.
“It is environmentally irresponsible to tamper, alter shorelines or try to control this precious resource,” she writes.
If water levels remain high, the amount of sand required to recreate a beach would be “astronomical and would have a real possibility of being washed away in the first storm.”
Instead, Samson says the town should continue to enhance the inland beach created last year, continue to protect the shoreline from erosion and consider building a spray park.
Mayor Sean McIntyre said any work done on the beach would need provincial approval.
“That means that the work would a) make sense, and b) not harm the environment,” he said.
“I’m passionate about replacing the sand on the beach. It’s something that’s been part of the culture of Sylvan Lake for the past century and we definitely miss it.”
While some may want to let nature take its course, that was already affected when the seawall was built many years ago, he said.
“It’s right in that seawall area we’re talking about adding sand,” he said, adding that new sand wouldn’t be brought in but existing sand would be moved from the swimming area up to the seawall.
About 30 years ago, the swimming area was regularly dredged with scrapers to pile up sand. The beach created lasted quite a long time and didn’t disappear in a storm, he said.
“I think if we were to do a half measure and move a little bit of sand, then absolutely a storm could take it out. History would say if we do it properly it would last for years to come.”
Samson also expressed opposition to the town budgeting $650,000 to purchase land for truck and trailer parking for the privately owned Sylvan Lake Marina. She says the money would be better spent on building a new boat launch at Range Road 21, a proposal that is in the early planning stages and is supported by Lacombe County.
McIntyre said the parking proposal is in the early planning stages and is meant to address all downtown parking issues. No land has been identified for purchase.
The town remains committed to exploring the new boat launch.
Samson could not be reached for further comment on Wednesday.