Summer Village of Sunbreaker Cove
c/o Summer Village Office
90B Hewlett Park Landing
Sylvan Lake, Alberta
September 22, 2010
Attention: Dale Freitag, RPP, MCIP Long Range Planner
2540 Kensington Road N.W.
Attention: Brendyn Seymour, ACP, MCIP Planner
Re: Bylaw No. 1027/10 Sylvan Lake Area Structure Plan
Thank you for providing the opportunity and forum for the stakeholders around Sylvan Lake to provide comments regarding the proposed Lacombe County Sylvan Lake Area Structure Plan (ASP).
I have read the draft of the ASP prepared by Lacombe County & AECOM, the County’s consultants, and I attended the Open House in Sylvan Lake on July 10, 2010. I am also familiar with the Sylvan Lake Management Plan: 2000 Update, and the Sylvan Lake Public Access Study – Findings & Recommendations (Third Draft) dated January 20, 2003.
As you are aware, the Summer Village of Sunbreaker Cove (SBC) is one of 8 municipalities with a vested interest in Sylvan Lake. Any proposed future developments around the lake and, in particular, those in close proximity to our community are very important to us. Our residents have concerns about the environment, and the quality of life that we enjoy and how it might be adversely affected by ad hoc development. It is based on these fundamentals that we are making our submission.
Our Summer Village Council fully supports the concept of an ASP. Overall, I found the ASP in its draft form to be very well done and quite informative. I was particularly pleased to see the following phrase in section 2.2 page 8 “…the primary growth determinant is the biological capacity of the lake to sustain additional housing and recreational activities”. Words such as capacity and sustainability are extremely important to our residents as several large developments are currently either underway or pending at the extreme west end of the lake, and two other large projects are proposed immediately north and west of our community. Our Council also supports the key policies of the ASP as documented in the Notice of Public Hearing.
However, as the Community most likely to be affected by this ASP, I also have some reservations and concerns. These can be broadly categorized into three subjects:
A. Section 2.5.6 Recreational Vehicle Resorts states:
Recreational vehicles (RV) resorts are permitted in the Lake Development Area of this ASP. As RV resorts/subdivisions generate high traffic and boat volumes they should be located within a mile of a formal boat launch and on paved roadway. RV sites require attention to the visual interface with surrounding roads and must ensure adequate pedestrian access to the lake. The developer will be expected to provide sufficient recreational park facilities to serve the residents.
One concern that I have with respect to this subject is the fact that in the 75 page ASP, a mere 5 lines have been allocated to deal with Recreational Vehicle Resorts (RVR). It is almost as if this matter has not yet been thoroughly reviewed. I respectfully suggest that an ASP of this magnitude requires more detail regarding RVR development, especially one with such close proximity to a recreation area such as Sylvan Lake.
The second concern that I have is the statement that RV resorts should be located within one mile of a formal boat launch and on a paved roadway. To the best of my knowledge, there are only two boat launch sites on Sylvan Lake suitable for all but the smaller canoes and car topper type fishing boats. One of those is in the Town of Sylvan Lake, is privately operated and fees are levied by the Operator. The other runs virtually through the centre of our Summer Village, is for public access and is offered to the public free of charge. I’m assuming that these are what have been referred to as formal boat launches.
Without the development of more boat launches with paved road access, our Summer Village and Marine Drive specifically becomes by default the only available option for any subsequent RV developments outside of the Town of Sylvan Lake. This is far from desirable for our residents.
In Section 3.1 on page 24 of the Sylvan Lake Public Access Study (SLPAS), it states that “…a majority of existing public access sites already function near capacity during peak summer weekends”
Given the above, it only makes sense that all future RV development sites be put on hold until such time as paved road access to additional formal boat launch sites has been completed. This would be one of our amending recommendations to the ASP.
B. Boat Launch Facilities
On page 14, section 2.5.1 of the Sylvan Lake Public Access Study, prepared 7 years ago, it states that “The SLMP identified the development of a new public boat launch on Sylvan Lake as a high priority”.
The SLMP referred to was drafted in the year 2000.
To the best of my knowledge, since the year 2000, there have been absolutely no new boat launch facilities developed for Sylvan Lake.
On the contrary, in 2003, what was recommended was the permanent closure of three locations and the seasonal closure of two others used as boat launches as identified on page 29 of the SLPAS.
Further, Figure 2.1 of the SLPAS identifies the locations of the two current boat launch facilities, two potential sites with high suitability and four others with moderate suitability.
Why is this of such great concern to our Summer Village? All proposed new boat launch facilities are on the south or south west shores of the lake. Unfortunately, over the last few years, much of the new and proposed development around the lake is on the north shore and along the west end. Essentially, development is occurring and is proposed on properties around Sylvan Lake where no suitable boat launch sites have yet been identified. As a reminder, there is only one formal boat launch site on the north shore and it runs almost through the centre of our Summer Village.
As stated earlier, I believe there are 2 separate developments underway at the west end and a third pending. There is also the 515 lot Skyy Country RV development proposed to our north and the more than 500 lot proposed Palm Cove development immediately to our west. That’s potentially 1500 – 2000 more new neighbours or more than 6 times the population of our current community trying to access an already at capacity, over utilized boat launch. In my opinion, the potential risk for conflict at this already at capacity facility is high.
Our second recommended amendment to the ASP is much like our first. In our view, any future development around Sylvan Lake needs to be put on hold until new and suitable lake access infrastructure, including boat launch facilities, sufficient truck/trailer parking capacity, and washroom amenities are in place.
C. 2.6 Environmental Protection & Enhancement
I do not believe that anybody could take exception to what has been stated in these 7 pages. But I am always concerned that plans pertaining to the environment are rarely realized.
On page 57 of the ASP is a map (Figure 5) identified as a Draft of Environmental Features. That map looks very similar to one published in 2000 as part of the SLMP Update. Of note on those maps are the locations of two large environmentally sensitive areas at the far NW corner of the lake; one identified as Key Fisheries Habitat (by far the largest such area on the entire lake) and the second identified as Key Ungulate Habitat. Yet this is the exact area where the above 5 existing, proposed or pending developments are located. A cynic might say “so much for the plan”. The Palm Cove development, if approved, would further infringe on both of these Habitat Areas.
The above is but one example of environmental recommendations made in various plans going back at least ten years that appear to have been neglected.
Therefore, my real concern is that matters pertaining to the environment often appear to take a back seat to development opportunities. This would be a shame if it were allowed to occur again because it is the environment that makes Sylvan Lake so special to all of us.
As stated at the outset of this submission and quoted from the ASP, “…the primary growth determinant is the biological capacity of the lake to sustain additional housing and recreational activities”.
I view that as a covenant between the County of Lacombe and all stakeholders within the area that might be affected by future development. I sincerely hope that the County of Lacombe takes the same view.
Thank you again for the opportunity of making this submission.
Mayor, SV of Sunbreaker Cove
Sunbreaker Cove Mayor Bill Carr
Sunbreaker Cove Deputy Mayor Ron Wuetherick
Sunbreaker Cove Councilor Teresa Beets
Sunbreaker Cove Administrator Myra Reiter