Public meeting on important lake project

Alix Lake
Written by Stu Salkeld

Alix village council decided the municipality will host a public information meeting to update residents on a number of issues affecting the popular community lake. The decision was made at the Nov. 1 regular meeting of council.

Councillors read an update on various Alix Lake projects, including efforts to dredge the lake to make it deeper, submitted by Chief Administrative Officer (CAO) Michelle White.
“Council made Alix Lake improvements a priority during 2022 strategic planning,” stated White’s report to council.

“Staff have been working throughout 2023 on this project in various ways. Working with Alberta Environment on environmental reserve (ER) trouble spots and applying for a watershed resiliency and restoration grant to continue working on ER lands. Working with Alberta Environment to obtain dredging approval, etc.”

White noted there were two decisions councillors could make regarding her update: whether to hold a public information night to update the public on Alix Lake projects and to begin dredging work in the lake this year and into 2024.

The CAO reminded councillors they set aside $100,000 in the 2023 budget for dredging Alix Lake.

“Unfortunately the approval work took a considerable amount of time which cost us the majority of the season,” stated White’s report. “We are legally required to obtain approval through Alberta Environment before beginning any dredging operations or aquatic vegetation removal. Approval has been granted until Sept. 30, 2025.

“Council may decide to move the remaining $99,565.62 into an Alix Lake reserve so it will be available in 2024.” The CAO pointed out, however, financial decisions can wait until annual budget talks.

Alix residents obviously feel very strongly about their lake as the CAO noted several times that the village office hears regularly from the public about the lake project.

“The public have shown a high level of interest in this initiative over the last several months,” stated the CAO’s report. “Residents come into the office to share their ideas, ask how to get involved, offer their support and express their concerns.”

During discussion the CAO stated village staff have been working hard on this project over the past year and staff were very grateful to Alberta Environment for all the help the provincial department offered. Readers should note dredging Alix Lake was proposed to village council as a way to increase its ability to support fish species, which could eventually result in increased tourism opportunities such as sport fishing.

White also stated village staff have spoken to contractors about the dredging project and judging from those comments it sounded like $100,000 won’t be enough to finish the project; however, the CAO stated it was frustrating that it was very difficult to get a firm quote on a final price from contractors.

White stated some uncertainty stems from the fact nobody knows for sure how much material will be scraped off the bottom of the lake.

It was noted at the meeting the Village of Alix previously committed to holding a public information meeting about this project.

Coun. Tim Besuijen stated the village should move ahead with organizing and hosting the meeting, suggesting experts such as Alberta Environment representatives be invited who likely would be able to answer technical questions better than village staff or council.

Councillors debated when to hold the meeting, and agreed November was too soon and December was too busy; they eventually agreed on February.

Coun. Barb Gilliat asked if it was possible to allow the public to send in questions ahead of time so guest speakers can be fully prepared. The CAO stated she would look into that.

It was noted the information night would also include updates on projects other than the lake dredging.

Councillors unanimously approved holding a public information night.

Stu Salkeld
Local Journalism Initiative reporter
ECA Review

About the author

Stu Salkeld

Stu Salkeld, who has upwards of 28 years of experience in the Alberta community newspaper industry, is now covering councils and other news in the Stettler region and has experience working in the area as well.

He has joined the ECA Review as a Local Journalism Initiative Journalist.

Stu earned his two-year diploma in print journalism from SAIT in Calgary from 1993 to ’95 and was raised in Oyen, Alta., one of the communities within the ECA Review’s coverage area.