Chestermere City Council directed staff to cease work on the Draft Lake Use Bylaw and proceed in amending the Boat Launch Bylaw and reintroduce the Beach Use Bylaw for the 2021 summer season during the March 2 Regular Meeting of Council.
The Draft Lake Use Bylaw was the second phase of the Lake Recreation Safety Plan, which came from council identifying the risks and liability the city carries, and a need to improve safety practices and etiquette of the lake.
“The first phase of implementing the plan based on public feedback was quite successful, which was the increase of RCMP and CPO presence about safety checks and the buoy system to manage boat traffic,” said the Community Recreation Coordinator, Kate Richards.
The next phase was developing the bylaw, where city administration learned about the community’s perception of lake safety, the community’s needs, and the city’s jurisdiction.
“We did also identify there are certain bylaws that we have that need to be updated to help support lake safety,” Richards said.
“We’ve done some reflections on our current draft Lake Use Bylaw, and the public perception of lake safety we’ve learned has shifted a lot since 2018. We found in 2018 there was more openness to explore lake safety regulations, but with the pandemic that has definitely affected the community’s perception on regulations, specifically how they feel this draft bylaw may restrict their use of the lake with so many other constraints being put on their lives due to COVID-19,” she said.
Adding, “It’s important to say that administration was listening. We want to emphasize how important the public engagement process has been to our understanding of community needs, and that’s why we’re here to present alternative options to ensure we implement initiatives that truly enhance the recreational use of the lake, and not hinder it.”
The first option Richards presented to council was to reduce the Draft Lake Use Bylaw to only essential clauses regarding the boat launch and beach management for the summer season, while any clause that received mixed feedback would be removed.
Under the first option, city administration also recommended the Off Highway Vehicle Bylaw, Boat Launch Bylaw, and Beach Bylaw be updated in 2022.
The second option presented to council discontinued the current Lake Use Bylaw with limited changes to the Boat Launch Bylaw and the reintroduction of the Beach Use Bylaw.
“We recommend the Boat Launch Bylaw be updated to reflect current practices, it’s very outdated, and it doesn’t provide us any real information or support for our practices, and this would provide clarity to the public regarding registration practices,” Richards said.
“Our recommendations for the Beach Use Bylaw is to update the bylaw for 2021 with clauses that the city needs to manage occupancy rates at the beaches due to possible health and safety issues. We would establish this bylaw as permanent,” she said.
Adding, “This would help the city be able to manage these spaces in the face of possible health and safety concerns moving forward.”
City administration will continue to work with the public and stakeholders to develop opportunities to improve safety on the lake for future years.
“Maintaining those connections, as the community grows is really important, and we will strive to do that,” Richards said.
“The bylaw development process has greatly improved city administration’s understanding of lake safety regulations, jurisdiction around Chestermere Lake, and the community’s lake safety needs and expectations,” she said.