Mayor’s corner: Let’s talk about the beach

Tyler Warman
Mayor of Slave Lake

First off, Happy New Year to everyone! And with a new year comes a new set of topics, so let’s get off to a great start with talking about something is not usually talked about in the dead of winter – the beach.
There have been some recent developments on the beaches in Slave Lake Region and I want to take some time and fill you in on what those developments are.
On January 10, both Town and M.D. councils met with Calvin McLeod from Alberta Parks to talk about issues in the Region, with the major issue being Devonshire Beach.
First off, Alberta Parks has no interest in expanding, or allowing for, additional groomed beach along Devonshire Beach. This doesn’t really come as shock to us, and so we focused more on maintenance of Devonshire Beach, rather than expansion of the area.
One of the first issues we identified in the meeting was finding the beach. As we embark on a journey in 2018 to promote tourism, we want to make sure the beach is easy to find. We currently have two groomed areas of 400m each. One is at the viewing area at the handicap ramp and the other at the stairs by the parking lot-now pull through camping area. If you park anywhere else, you will enter onto an un-groomed area of the beach that is kept to preserve a rare willow species, or a native fish and bird habitat.
Signage explaining where you are and indicating where you should go is a must moving forward. This is not a new conversation, and as such signage was added late last year. We will be working with Parks to identify any gaps in the signage that were installed in order to make sure it is easy for tourists to find and understand where they are once they arrive in the park.
Every couple of years, Parks contracts the harrowing of the beach and digging up the bigger vegetation in the groomed areas. During the meeting last week we pushed to have this done every year, as we stated that there is a noticeable difference when it’s done compared to when it’s not.
We also pushed for a community clean-up event, where we would help gather debris and driftwood and burn it. Parks was open to the idea and over the next couple of months we are going to see how it would work out.
While on that subject, Parks brought up the issues of garbage, pets and enforcement. They clean the beach every morning Monday to Friday, but according to staff they have a significant amount of waste to pick up. Additionally, pets are only allowed on the beach south of the stairs, so when Parks staff comes across pets in the other areas, is enforcement necessary?
To that end we are going to work together to better understand how better we deal with these issues that arise and communicate with the public.
All in all, none of this is mind-blowing by any means, but there is a willingness from both sides that we can make some changes and have much bigger impact for residents and tourists alike.
I understand we have to respect the environment and protect the natural resources we have. We also have to put in the time and sweat to ensure the areas designed for recreation are looked after.
As we move forward we will all have a role to play in that. My hope is that the multitude of people who express their desire to have a better beach are willing to roll up their sleeves and help us look after it.
We are only in the start of our discussions, so as we have some more concrete information to share in the coming months, we will be happy to share.
So stay tuned.

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