Buffalo Shores public consultation concluded

Stettler County sign - south entrance. (Terri Huxley/ECA Review)
Written by Submitted

Two rounds of in-depth consultation with all parties involved in the Buffalo Lake South Shore Intermunicipal Development Plan (BLSSIDP) in response to the Buffalo Shores resort development have concluded.

Mixed reviews from different stakeholders gave the county a sense of where everyone stood.

County of Stettler administration took to council for next steps at their meeting on Wed. Dec. 4.

Earlier this year, the Subdivision and Development Appeal Board (SDAB) made a decision to have the resort limited to 168 units in density.

The resort found this to be far lower than needed to make it a viable business and 312 units were already built by the time the decision was handed down.

County Administration presented the idea of requesting an amendment to the Buffalo Lake South Shore Intermunicipal Development Plan (BLSSIDP) in order to allow for an increase in allowable density for the Buffalo Lake RV Resort.

An increase in allowable density for the RV Resort has the potential to generate operating capital for the property owners to address current areas of non-compliance and may allow for a swift resolution for over 200 leaseholders affected by the current Stop Order in place.

In the discussions that have recently transpired, “Stakeholder reaction to the engagement sessions ranged from openness to pursue an increase in density to strong and definitive opposition to providing any concessions to the developer.”

A final community engagement session was held on Nov. 29 with all previous attendees invited to meet with the owners of the Buffalo Lake RV resort and the council of the County of Stettler.

The session was well attended and gave the stakeholders an opportunity to meet directly with the developer and have their questions answered.

Community response to the final session was “remarkably similar to that of previous sessions.”

Attendance at the engagement sessions included representatives from community associations along the South Shore of Buffalo Lake, councils of the Summer Village of White Sands and the Summer Village of Rochon Sands and landowners of nearby properties located within the County of Stettler.

A closed session took place before a decision was made.

The county will formally request an amendment to the Buffalo Lake South Shore Intermunicipal Development Plan to allow for an increase in the allowable density of dwelling units from 168 dwelling units to 325 dwelling units at Buffalo Shores.

They also place a moratorium on further development within the land pending the completion of a major review of the BLSSIDP by an independent third party.

All councillors were in favour aside from Coun. Cheri Neitz.

“It’s the best option to satisfy all parties,” said Coun. Les Stulberg.

Coun. Wayne Nixon noted the pressing concern that ‘the county was turning a blind eye to environmental issues’ which he found to be untrue.

“We have been on top of it,” said Nixon. “We want people to realize we are aware of the concerns and we are addressing them.”

Recreation Special Project Funding

Each year the County distributes funding for special recreation projects to selected applicants.

Compared to last year, a large number of applicants were successful like the Nevis Community Centre which will see $12,000 for various repairs like the well, steps, exhaust fan and drywall.

Applications totalling $105,590.68 were received by the October 31 deadline.

These applications were reviewed by the Regional Recreation Board.

They were able to narrow down the funding to a third as only $50,000 is given each year.

From reserves, $50,165.50 has been doled out.

The extra $165.50 was easily covered by last year’s funding as not all of it had been used at that point.

Winners included the Botha Community Centre, Linda Hall, Red Willow Agriculture Society, Nevis Community Centre, Donalda Agricultural Society, Big Valley Community Centre, Erskine IOOF Hall, Big Valley Bust Out Rodeo and Sullivan Lake Agricultural Society, and Stettler & District Agricultural Society.

Letter to Kenney

The upcoming police costing model designed to download costs onto municipalities has caught the attention of council.

Coun. James Nibourg made a motion that was passed to send a letter to Alberta Premier Jason Kenny that states the county’s ‘serious concerns.’

One of which was how inconvenient the timing was to implement this “in the 12th hour” of budgeting.

“The timing was not well done,” said Nibourg.

Special Tax levy for south shore communities

As done in years prior, a special tax levy has been renewed for the communities of Buffalo Sands and Buffalo View Estates.

A similar bylaw is already in effect for Rochon Sands Heights for the water system.

For 2020, the levy is against each parcel of land not connected to the water and sewer system to produce the following sums to meet the special waterworks and sewer tax for $210.

Community Aggregate Payment Levy Bylaw

Aggregate producers constitute a significant portion of heavy traffic on County of Stettler roads, and council had the opportunity to implement a bylaw to recuperate some of the maintenance costs.

Second and third reading of the bylaw was passed during the monthly meeting with one councillor opposed. A community aggregate payment levy bylaw would produce revenue against sand and gravel extracted and shipped from pits within the County of Stettler.

The bylaw proposed aligns with how neighbouring municipalities levy against aggregate, which also closely follows the provincial Community Aggregate Payment Levy Regulation.

Community engagement through the form of a survey was conducted through the county website and the County Connection Magazine which identified where the public would like to see funds from the CAP Levy dedicated.

The results weighed heavily in favour of dedicating funds to infrastructure maintenance, with some interest in using some of the funds for rural crime initiatives.

Though the CAP Levy bylaw does not require a public hearing, the County held a second stakeholder engagement session November 26.

Feedback received from aggregate producers indicated the cost would be passed on to end customers and that there was concern regarding the equitable policing of reported shipments.

“We recognize things will be difficult or not easy as least but it’s definitely something we have to move forward on,” said Coun. Nixon.

Byemoor Property gas account arrears

The Paintearth Gas Co-op has requested the County of Stettler pay the outstanding arrears for gas service on the Byemoor Store that was recovered through tax sale.

After discussion, council chose to allow the company the freedom to remove the service from the site as no apparent buyer was lined up.

The disadvantage of this decision is that it could impact a future sale as they will no longer be able to sell it as a private lot.

The county has paid idle riser fees to gas co-operatives in the past.


Terri Huxley

ECA Review

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