By Cole Parkinson
Camping at Sherburne Lake may not be as it once was come summer 2020.
In late 2019, the Municipal District of Taber received a phone call from the manager of St. Mary River Irrigation District notifying them freelance camping that was occurring on lands near the Sherburne Reservoir boat launch has been prohibited and all existing campers were directed to leave the said lands.
“This was sent to me by the manager of the SMRID and the intent of notifying us was because of past interest in keeping and maintaining the availability to camp and use the boat launch. The SMRID has put a stop to that, they refer to it as freelance camping, and they are looking for a municipality or community group to manage and administer that, should camping be continued,” explained Craig Pittman, director of infrastructure, during the M.D.’s regular meeting on Jan. 14. “Whether it be similar in how we do it at the Forks or if we want to walk away with no interest in doing so. It was brought forward more as information and to get the wheels turning.”
Much like any other body of water in the area, the dangers of zebra mussels continue to be a major concern.
While the M.D. community peace officers are always on the lookout for the invasive species, they can’t be everywhere at once and adding camping at Sherburne Lake to the M.D.’s plate may extend those challenges even further.
“I know one of the concerns was having mussels in there. That should still be their concern also, more than our concern. So, I guess how are they going to do this without having somebody there?” said Reeve Merrill Harris.
“It poses its own challenges on the camping side as well as launching any water vessels into that body of water. We would be taking on some risk that does not currently exist with us if we want to administer this,” added Pittman.
With that restriction coming into place, council had questions on if there was any type of locked gate or keypad entrance available at the site.
“It’s not just free for all the way it stands, is it not?” asked Coun. John Turcato.
“I can’t confirm the locked gate, but I do know they have a small group who manages the boat launch into that so there is some accountability. I believe that is done on the honour system,” answered Pittman.
Due to risks that could present themselves, council wasn’t very receptive to taking on the project.
“I don’t think we are interested in taking it over. I guess if SMRID wants a campground down there, it is their land and reservoir. I guess the concern is making sure we don’t end up with a problem,” said Harris.
Another concern brought forward was the boat launch.
While it had been refurbished in the not too distant past, administration stated it still wasn’t in an optimal location due to the depth of the water.
“The boat launch that is there is in a pretty bad spot. The bathymetrics below the water are very shallow and very long stretched so the boat launch isn’t used as much as we hoped. It is built within the Crown right of way so that portion is within our management,” said Pittman. “The problem with it is, it will be a constant maintenance issue just based on where it is (located).”
A question was raised on if there would be another location that would better suit a boat launch.
“There is but it would end up on private property,” answered Pittman. “Ideally it would be located where the water gets deeper quicker and on the other side of the lake entirely.”
A motion was made to accept the memo as information and was carried unanimously.