Quiet Enjoyment Initiative Rejected by the Town of Sylvan Lake

The Sylvan Lake News reported on a decision of the Town of Sylvan Lake council on February 12 to decline a request for funding for the Quiet Enjoyment Initiative (QEI).

The  QEI project of the SLWSS champions the rights of all Sylvan Lake shoreline populations to enjoy the watershed without disturbance by inconsiderate operators of powerboats and snow machines on the lake surface. It is a call for respect of others and a for a community standard that encourages non-intrusive recreational activities. Alberta Environment and Parks has called for respect too.

Our Stewardship Society does not claim to be a regulatory agency. That is the role of others, including local municipalities on land and the RCMP detachment on both the land and water. In that regard, the Sylvan Lake Management Plan 2000 (SLMP) which all the watershed municipalities have adopted and agreed to implement, says this about boating control and noise pollution on Sylvan Lake:

3.2.7 Boating/Lake Use Conflicts

With the development of additional public access to the lake, the municipalities recognize that boating and other uses on the lake may need to be controlled and regulated to ensure the safe use and enjoyment of the water and to protect the natural environment.

Property owners have also called for more action to be taken to reduce noise pollution on the lake.

Policy Directions

  1. The municipalities will work with the RCMP to implement an ongoing education program focused on informing lake residents/users of all aspects of watercraft safety, user proficiency and user rules/regulations. The education program is expected to take the form of newsletters and pamphlets, and should be distributed to lake residents and other lake users.
  2. A boating restrictions plan may have to be considered for the lake. To implement any restrictions, an application would need to be made to Alberta Environment (Natural Resources Service – Fisheries Management Division) for the appropriate boating designations. Such restrictions might include the following:
  • restricted hours of boating operation;
  • locations restricted for boating;
  • speed limit zones; and
  • other issues as deemed necessary.

3. Efforts will be made to improve the marking of the 30 metres (100 feet) water zone adjacent to the shoreline along developed parts of the lake in order to facilitate awareness and enforcement of the 10 km/hr (6 mph) speed limit within these recognized potential user conflict areas.

4. Signs should be posted to identify sensitive fish habitats, particularly in the vicinity of:

  • Sylvan Lake Natural Area;
  • Kuusamo Krest;
  • Third Point to the east limits of the Summer Village of Norglenwold;
  • Summer Village of Birchcliff;
  • Summer Village of Jarvis Bay.

5. Improved marking of swimming areas will be considered as well as other means of reducing user conflicts. Jurisdictions operating the various beaches around the lake will be asked to review such areas and undertake necessary improvements.

6. Each municipality will adopt a by-law restricting the use of municipally-owned land for the launching of boats without proper noise abatement mechanisms and such other by-laws as may be appropriate to eliminate one major source of noise pollution on the lake.

Since that plan was developed two decades ago, power boating technologies, and their consequences for Sylvan Lake, have changed. Powerboat engines required for wake board sports are larger. Sound systems have increased in power. Excessive wave action has increased shoreline erosion and affected protected aquatic areas.

The SLMP and its Sylvan Lake Management Committee (SLMC) have not kept up. Many of the agreed clauses have been ignored by the municipalities, thereby devaluing that agreement. That is why our Society no longer participates in the affairs of the SLMC.

Missing from the TSL council’s debate were the basic facts about the Sylvan Lake shoreline and land likely to be exposed to excessive noise from sources on the lake in summer and winter.

Lake Community Lake Frontage, metres Lake Frontage, percent

 

Land Area, hectares
Birchcliff 3914 10.7% 94.00
Norglenwold 3530 9.7% 56.00
TSL Waterfront 3325 9.1% 110.00
Jarvis Bay 2431 6.6% 47.00
TSL Public Beach 2020 5.5% N/A
Sunbreaker Cove 2011 5.5% 52.00
Blissful Beach 958 2.6% 9.37
Half Moon Bay 640 1.8% 12.00
Kuusamo Krest 594 1.6% 6.66
Total 53.1% 387.03
Sylvan Lake Shoreline 36566 100.0%

Summer Villages, and other settlements in Red Deer and Lacombe counties, dominate the shoreline. The Town of Sylvan Lake (TSL) and the public beach take up just 9.1 and 5.5 percent respectively of the 36.5 km of lakeshore. Noise emitters near the beachfront will affect people on that public recreational land, particularly on mid-summer days when the TSL beach is densely packed.

This map illustrates the locations of the most probable noise-affected areas of Summer Villages (in green), and the TSL and other communities (in white). We assume that only the TSL northwest of the railroad track that runs through town is likely sensitive to loud lake noise with the rest of the town far enough away to perhaps grumble about it.

Lake-Noise-Affected Zones + SV Area.v2

Sparsely populated rural land is not highlighted in the graphic as noise pollution is unlikely to have an impact on crops and livestock.

The TSL has done its part for lake stewardship by not providing a public boat launch on its shoreline, thereby restricting access and reducing boat density at the southeast end of Sylvan Lake. A benefit for the town is that it does not have to enforce Clause 6 of Section 3.2.7. of the SLMP that is reprinted above. That intervention would certainly aggravate some of the summer flip-flop crowd that arrives in the watershed intent on having recreational fun while drawing attention to itself with a characteristically loud noise-print.

For some Sylvan Lake residents and taxpayers the town’s cost of subsidizing the recreational activities of that minority of visitors exceeds the value of those flip-flop tourists to the town, estimated to be $35.17/person-day according to the Economic Impact of Sylvan Lake Tourism report. In those cases, it would perhaps make more economic and community sense to pay those visitors to stay away. That would reduce the unwelcome, excessive lake noise that should not define the Sylvan Lake experience for tourists.

Footnote:

The Red Deer Advocate has followed the QEI for a few years. Here are three related articles:

https://www.reddeeradvocate.com/news/anti-lake-noise-group-not-giving-up/

https://www.reddeeradvocate.com/news/sylvan-lake-turns-down-quiet-initiative/

https://www.reddeeradvocate.com/news/sylvan-lakes-noise-pollution-needs-to-be-jointly-tackled-by-municipalities-says-group/

 

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