Although space is not plentiful at the city’s marina, it could be another avenue to show off the beauty of Cold Lake, argues Robertson.
Russ Robertson, a local businessman, approached Cold Lake city council on Aug. 11 with a presentation urging them to expand the marina in order to accommodate commercial ventures on the lake.
“I believe this whole area needs revitalization. We’ve got one of the great hidden jewels of Western Canada here, but people don’t really know that it exists,” said Robertson in an interview.
“Folks from Calgary and Edmonton would rather go to Sylvan Lake and deal with the blue-green algae.
“People have no idea how big Cold Lake is and what it’s got to offer — it has everything from fishing, to recreational activities, and some of the best beaches in Canada, but despite that development on the waterfront has been mostly stagnant.”
Robertson has been a Cold Lake resident since 1993 and currently owns and operates Wealth Works financial services in addition to Edgewater Cottage Inn Suite and Edgewater Crystalview Cottage — formerly Wild Rose Gallery and Gifts.
His interest in Cold Lake’s waterfront stems from a recent purchase of a 30-foot pleasure boat, which he’s put to use in offering cruises across Cold Lake, complete with dinner and beverage options.
Robertson has said it’s his goal to create a “destination experience” within Cold Lake by unifying his tourism-oriented venture into “Edgewater Experiences”.
He’s also partnered with local restaurants and cafes, including Mamacitas and Picante Cafe, to provide guests with high-quality meals, as well as to promote business growth in the north end, which has had a history of struggling to maintain long-term commercial ventures.
Despite the service having only opened earlier this summer, Robertson has found significant success with Edgewater Experiences, and feels that success justifies developing the marina.
“If we can bring more people here, more demand, while creating a shorter waiting list, why not? There’s multiple, some of the best beaches in Canada, some like Garnet that are only available by boat,” said Robertson.
“I’ve had guests that send their friends a picture of them out on the water, and their friends ask them ‘are you in Victoria’? And of course people say it’s Cold Lake, but there’s folks out there taking videos of themselves in waist-deep water going ‘it’s warm’.”
Tourism has its benefits, but it can also lead to issues such as overcrowding, litter, and inflated prices.
Robertson said he wasn’t concerned that an influx of people could make the jewel lose its lustre.
“Cold Lake is so big. This summer there were plenty of boats on the water, but space was never an issue. I mean, we’re providing water to Bonnyville and other communities in the region.
“As soon as you bring more people into your community there are connotations, but we live in a very safe community with Cold Lake, but in doing that creates economies of scale — people coming here will go through Bonnyville, St. Paul, so I believe from an entrepreneurial standpoint we can add to that element, and share the benefits with those people.”
City council is considering the request.