CANMORE – Improvements for Quarry Lake Park are moving forward with an updated design concept and increased budget.
Council voted to accept the revised concept plan for the popular swimming and outdoor recreation area in Canmore at its regular business meeting on May 5.
Elected officials also voted to approve an increase of $25,000 for a total budget of $125,000 in 2020 to begin the detailed design plan for the changes being considered.
Manager of public works Andreas Comeau detailed the history of the project, which dates back to a 2014 community survey on what improvements residents would like considered by the municipality and the Rocky Mountain Heritage Foundation, which co-own the park.
"Since the preliminary design phase, administration has gone out to the community to gauge their input on some of these design ideas," Comeau said.
"This year, we would like to do a detailed design that would allow us to refine cost estimates, so we have a better idea of what the project costs would be."
The $125,000 budget for the detailed design comes from the foundation, which Comeau said would also undertake a fundraising initiative to pay for the future improvements.
The feedback collected in 2014, as well as conceptual design work in 2016, was used to create a design concept last year. That concept was put out to the community for feedback, including an online survey that had 900 responses.
As a result of that process, Comeau presented changes to the design for the parking lot, north and south beaches, an amphitheatre area and jumping platform.
Comeau said the amphitheatre was removed from the plan entirely, given a lack of support in the survey results. As were a proposed floating dock and picnic shelter at the south beach area. A defined access point into the water, more trees and picnic tables, however, are included in the plan for that beach area.
The platform for jumping on the far side of the lake was kept in the plan, but a ladder to get back up to the platform and safety equipment were added.
"Based on what we heard from the public, administration is still supporting a jumping platform," Comeau said, adding work will be done to determine the depth of the water underneath it.
The number of picnic shelters considered for the north beach were reduced from three to one and it was shifted on site toward the washroom area to keep views more natural from the open area to the north of the beach.
The entire parking area would be formalized and improved. A drop off area and more bike racks are proposed, but as for whether or not it would be paved, Comeau said that is a decision that still requires more discussion.
The detailed design will be brought back to the foundation's board and council with options for consideration, as well as cost estimates to compare the price of paving, versus leaving the parking lot with a more permeable surface.
"Right now, we are going forward with both, so we understand what the cost implications would be," Comeau said.
In February, the concept plan was shared with the board of the heritage foundation, which supported it.
Mayor John Borrowman, who also sits on the board, said the work on the concept plan has been slow and thoughtful.
"I feel very positive about the amount of public engagement we have had for this," Borrowman said, noting how important the area is to locals. "I think where the concept plans have landed at this time is very supportable.
"I do not think it is broadly understood in the community the critical role the [Rocky Mountain Heritage Foundation] plays in all these matters and while it is a small foundation, it is totally committed to maintaining Quarry Lake Park in the ways the community wants."
Councillors noted administration's hard work on the concept plan, especially considering that many of the responses to the survey last fall were almost equally split between those who supported an idea, and those who didn't.
"I think you have done a masterful job listening to the community," said Coun. Vi Sandford. "As we see, there are a lot of opinions and they are diverse."
Sandford noted there are those in the community who want to keep Quarry Lake Park the same.
"But the use of this area has changed over the past 20 years," she said. "There is a completely different usage pattern now and the number of people using it has increased.
"I think the parking and amenities that go with that increase have to be looked at carefully."
There was one particular amenity the public feedback asked for, and council indicated support for – a water fountain. However, Comeau said the park does not have water servicing, and as such, a fountain is not possible at this time.
Go to the Town of Canmore's website for current projects for more details on the Quarry Lake Park design concept plan.