Pigeon Lake plan presented to county council

Pigeon Lake plan presented to county council

County of Wetaskiwin wants more time to peruse management plan

The County of Wetaskiwin heard a detailed report from a prime group spearheading the efforts to reverse water quality issues in Pigeon Lake.

The Pigeon Lake Watershed Association appeared before council at their regular council meeting Apr. 3 to present a draft copy of the Pigeon Lake Watershed Management Plan 2018, represented at the meeting by PLWA director and steering committee chair Bob Gibbs and Don Davidson, mayor of Grandview Beach and steering committee vice-chair.

The men stated this management plan was the result of a collaborative effort between municipalities, associations, the provincial government and many other people including farmers with both Gibbs and Davidson pointing out the new Municipal Government Act encourages collaboration. The plan is a non-binding guideline with the main goal of improving and protecting water quality in Pigeon Lake.

The management plan has eight objectives and 46 recommendations, noted Gibbs, and the ultimate goal is to reduce the nutrient load into the lake while using best practices.

(Editor’s note: Pigeon Lake’s algae bloom issues are well-known, and the causes are often discussed locally; nutrients such as phosphorus are usually linked to the blooms.)

Davidson said all councils in the area of Pigeon Lake will be asked to adopt and implement the 2018 management plan.

Gibbs said the plan includes several goals which will help reduce phosphorus runoff into Pigeon Lake.

Gibbs said the plan includes priorities in the lake itself including improving knowledge of phosphorus and cyanobacteria in the lake and improving defense against invasive species.

Gibbs said has so far received generally positive response from various councils. Davidson stated a leadership session is planned for Apr. 28 and the steering committee was hoping to see resolutions in place from councils before then.

Reeve Kathy Rooyakkers stated the plan has not been discussed formally by council and stated she still saw things in the management plan she wasn’t happy with. For example, Rooyakkers said the Association of Pigeon Lake Municipalities, a group of summer villages and hamlets around the lake, should not be a lead on this project but rather a support. Rooyakkers stated municipalities with jurisdiction should be leads.

Gibbs noted the APLM acts in a support fashion. Davidson responded to Rooyakkers by saying, “I think that’s a good point and we can make that change.”

Councilor Dale Woitt asked whether First Nations have been included in the management plan. “Their input, I think, is important,” said Woitt.

Gibbs and Davidson noted the steering has had very positive contact with nearby First Nations, and in fact is working with a group of representatives from five First Nations. “We think we’ve got some headwind here,” said Gibbs.

Councilor Terry Van de Kraats said he felt that the County of Wetaskiwin has supported Pigeon Lake projects for years while other municipalities less so. “I think we as a county have done our part,” said Van de Kraats.

Davidson said the management plan requests collaboration from all municipalities to reach the goals listed.

Rooyakkers noted the county council includes several new members who may not be familiar with the management plan, and thus the council would need some time to digest this plan.

But the reeve recognized how much work went into the plan. “I do commend you for all the work you’ve done,” she added.

The draft management plan is available online at http://www.plwa.ca/.

Stu.salkeld@pipestoneflyer.ca