January 18, 2018 3:48 pm
Updated: January 19, 2018 8:55 am

Ownership of Sylvan Lake Provincial Park to be transferred to town

Sylvan Lake Provincial Park in central Alberta. July 10, 2013.

Caley Ramsay / Global News

The Town of Sylvan Lake will soon take over ownership of Sylvan Lake Provincial Park from the Alberta government.

The town west of Red Deer is a popular destination for Albertans, with over 760,000 people visiting between July and August each year.

Sylvan Lake, Alta.

Global News

The park along the lake features a 1.6-kilometre sand and grass beach and park, two large beach volleyball courts in the summer and skating rinks in the winter.

Earlier this year, the town requested to take control of the lakefront park as a way to better promote the area, as well as to license and manage waterfront business activity.

READ MORE: Town of Sylvan Lake looks to take over control of provincial park

A “Battle of Alberta” beach volleyball tournament between the Edmonton Sport and Social Club and the Calgary Sport and Social Club at Sylvan Lake Provincial Park in Sylvan Lake, Alta. September 9, 2017.

Karen Bartko, Global News

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A public consultation showed there was considerable support for the transfer. On Thursday, the government of Alberta said it had approved the request. Details on when the transfer would be complete were not released.

“We are grateful for the provincial support of our efforts to increase access to Sylvan Lake, create opportunities to manage park visitor experience, and to contribute to our ongoing efforts to strengthen our local economy,” Sylvan Lake Mayor Sean McIntyre said in a news release.

A spokesperson for the town said the transfer comes with a one-time funding allocation of $1.96 million for park improvements and maintenance costs.

READ MORE: Alberta provincial parks to get $239M upgrade 

The province said the transfer of the park’s ownership allows the town to fully implement its Sustainable Waterfront Area Redevelopment Plan on the southern edge of Sylvan Lake, which will boost tourism and economic opportunities in the community.

In the past, the Provincial Parks Act limited the town’s ability to carry out the plan. On Thursday, the town said with the park becoming their property, they can now develop a complete, integrated plan for the entire waterfront area.

According to the province, tourism in Sylvan Lake employs 600 people annually and the economic impact for the town is just under $75 million per year.

READ MORE: Alberta to fund water infrastructure developments for rural communities

As part of the terms for the transfer, the land must remain public recreation property and can’t be sold or leased for uses such as commercial and residential development.

Provincial funds used to maintain Sylvan Lake Provincial Park will be redistributed to other provincial parks, the government said.

The province will still have a provincial park elsewhere on the lake. Jarvis Bay Provincial Park on the northeast shore recently underwent a $4.5-million expansion, with revamped campsites, improved R.V. access and upgraded water, sewage and electrical.

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