More information has been released about the delays in replacing a boat launch that area residents say is dangerous, and replacing it with a much-needed lake access in the Plamondon area. And it seems that the water that many outdoor enthusiasts want more access to is one of the biggest reasons blocking the removal and construction of a new boat launch near Plamondon.
High water levels on Lac la Biche lake continue to dampen plans to remove a crumbling boat launch beside the White Sands Resort and build a new launch a few kilometres along the lakeshore, confirms Lac La Biche County's acting CAO Ken Van Buul.
"The high water marks that our residents are fighting with, and the high wave action our residents are fighting with on their properties — we are fighting the same issue on the removal of the White Sands boat launch," he said. "We need some water levels to go down, we need Mother Nature to cooperate with us a bit."
In recent months, lake levels on the community's namesake lake have risen more than four feet in some areas. The rising water has meant that plans to block off the area around the old launch have been delayed as equipment cannot hold back the deeper water.
The White Sands boat launch has been closed for more than a year due to disrepair. Plans to create a new boat launch a few kilometres south of the location have been in the works for several years. Timelines play a critical role in all aspects of the project, said Van Buul, especially when it comes to permission from Alberta Environment to carry out construction projects in the lake and along the lakeshore.
"Our concern on the (White Sands) project — and it's starting to be a very big concern — is that our approval to remove that has a time window on it, and that window closes on September 15," he said, explaining that if water levels continue to stay at historic levels, administrative staff will have to go back to Alberta Environment officials seeking an extension for the project, or see the job moved to next year. "Mother nature and time right now aren't on our side."
Compounding the issue, Alberta Environment officials have yet to grant the request to begin construction at the new location along the shoreline of the Plamondon MotorSports Association land.
That hold up, says Lac La Biche County's senior manager of Public Works is due to an archeological review of the area.
Brian Shapka says the remains of a building's foundation were found at the site during a government inspection. Suspected to be modern construction, Shapka said it is likely an old trapper's cabin, but the archeological review has to be done.
Van Buul said the timeline for the new boat launch construction will likely now see the project pushed to 2021 at the earliest.
"At this point in time... it's really safe to say this job will not start this year," said Van Buul. "The windows for those project usually are later in spring or early in the summer."
Municipal administrators continue to say the two projects are a priority.