On May 10, the phone rang at Ghost Lake Recreation Ltd. and it was an official from Alberta Environment and Parks on the line.
Now, this may not seem usual, since Mike Weinert has operated a marina and the Ghost Lake Provincial Recreation Area for 21 years, but it was a call he started to believe would never come.
Since the flood mitigation efforts were intensified at TransAlta's Ghost Reservoir, Weinert's company has seen a drastic drop in users and he says government officials have not been returning his calls to discuss what can be done to adjust to the new reality of low water early in the boating season. But perhaps that's changing.
"I've never had anybody directly talk to me on what my needs are," says Weinert. "It's nice to see, but we're a long way down the path on this one."
Weinert said he explained his situation and views last Wednesday and the officials might be paying him a visit in the near future.
Banff-Cochrane MLA Cam Westhead is pleased to hear officials got hold of Weinert and said he had asked the ministry to contact him.
"I had heard from him last year that he had some concerns about the lowering of the water levels. This year came around and the reservoir was going to be lowered again for flood mitigation and I knew he had been expressing a desire to be heard again," says Westhead. "With that in mind, I talked to the ministry and asked someone to get in touch with him to hear his concerns and see how we can work with him to address those."
Weinert is passionate about the leisure activities the area offers.
"Yes I make money here, but really I'm passionate about the boaters and people using it and I just see it dwindling away and nobody seems to be doing anything about it," says Weinert.
He estimates business has halved since the water levels drops started in 2014 and while he understands the need for flood mitigation he believes measures should be taken to make the facility useable, particular the public launches.
"The launch on the north side is completely unuseable because it falls off a cliff and the launch on the southside is well past the cement blocks so you're off the blocks and into the muddy bank, not only with your trailer but your truck, so it puts you a long way down that hill before you can launch your boat."
Alberta Environment and Parks, though, recognizes this problem and measures are in the works.
Rick Friedl, director of northern dam operations for Alberta Environment and Parks, says preliminary designs are being completed and should they receive all the necessary regulatory approvals in time the new launches will be installed next spring.
Weinert has taken measures for his own marina. He has lengthened his gangway by 16 feet and his marina is now open. Even then, boats with long keels won't be able to use the reservoir at its current level.
How soon the water rises remains unknown and depends upon weather conditions. Spring was late and there's an above average snowpack in the mountains.
"I'm hoping it's up by July 1st because that's a crucial camping weekend for me.," says Weinert. "July 1 weekend is generally is one of our busiest of the entire summer so I'm hoping the water is full so the campground's full and the lake's busy. If the water level is low not only do I loss in the marina, I lose the camping revenue as well."