Recreational facilities and opportunities are major attractions to communities and tourism destinations.
Visitors to Winagami Lake Provincial Park are happier now that the wading pool has re-opened, thanks to a collaborative and persistent effort by many local municipal councils to lobby the provincial government.
Soon after Alberta Parks pulled the plug on the popular pool in spring 2019, lobby efforts were initiated by Village of Donnelly Mayor Lanctot, who sent letters to neighbouring municipal councils.
A notice on the park’s website stated it was no longer feasible to maintain the aging infrastructure and repair vandalism.
But local municipal leaders were determined fight for the pool!
In her letter to councils, Lanctot asked one big question: “What can we do to reverse this decision?”
So, Lanctot and other municipal councils and leaders pooled their passion for the pool and efforts to lobby the government.
Letters were also sent to local MLAs, including Todd Loewen, MLA for Grande Prairie Smoky at the time, and Lesser Slave Lake MLA Pat Rehn.
Local leaders agreed the pool and park were well-used not only by tourists, but also people from High Prairie, Big Lakes County, the M.D. of Smoky, River, McLennan, Donnelly, Falher, Girouxville. Valleyview, Peace River and other parts of the Peace region.
The project to revive the pool seemed to take a back burner when the COVID-19 pandemic struck in March 2020.
But efforts were revived when Loewen was named minister of forestry, parks and tourism by Premier Danielle Smith on Oct. 21, 2022. Loewen said at the time the wading pool was one local issue that would receive immediate attention. He noted the pool supported the premier’s mandate letter to improve facilities at Alberta Parks to ensure plenty of affordable recreation options.
Lanctot reminded Loewen of the wading pool. Loewen then authorized funding for the project in June.
It’s also good to have a local MLA in the cabinet!
Persistence paid off.
For decades, Big Lakes County has lobbied government to contribute funding to pave gravel roads in the Hilliard’s Bay Provincial Park area.
Big Lakes council has requested funding to pave Township Rd. 752A (Hilliard’s Bay Rd.) and Range Rd 141 (Shaw’s Point Road).
Efforts to pave the road have also been pleaded by Hilliard’s Bay Estates Condominium Association.
When the issue was discussed at a Big Lakes County council meeting a few years ago, council got some advice from former MLA and cabinet minister Hector Goudreau, a local resident.
Be persistent and never give up!