Council balks at Starland County’s land request

Written by Stu Salkeld

Morrin village council balked at a request from neighbouring municipality M.D. of  Starland that involves multiple privately-owned lots. 

A letter from Starland was read by councillors at their Jan. 12 regular meeting.

The regular meeting was re-scheduled from the normal date of Jan. 19 due to a scheduling conflict.

Village Chief Administrative Officer (CAO) Annette Plachner asked 

Councillors added an item to their agenda under the correspondence section, a letter from the M.D. of Starland.

The letter stated that Starland was considering a “buy back” of four lots from Morrin business owner Thomas Welch. The letter stated the four lots were sold to Welch in 2020.

Coun. Lorraine MacArthur asked if there was any more information about that transaction as she was not familiar with it.

Mayor Chris Hall noted that the letter did include some background information, including that Welch apparently bought those four lots from Starland in 2020 with the intention of developing a new business there, specifically a gas station. 

The Starland letter stated that Welch had asked if Starland would consider buying back the four lots from him, essentially reversing the deal, as the COVID pandemic was having a negative effect on his business plans.

Chief Administrative Officer (CAO) noted that according to the Municipal Government Act (MGA) municipalities cannot tax each other, so if the village gives the nod to this proposal and the lots become Starland property, the lots will no longer generate tax revenue.

MacArthur asked why Starland was involved in this and Coun. M’Liss Edwards answered that the M.D. was the original owner of those lots. Edwards also noted as she read the Starland letter that the M.D. received this request from Welch and that Welch noted he may purchase the lots back after a year if the economy improves.

During discussion it was stated that the MGA has some rules for municipalities acquiring property that’s located within another municipality; the purchasing municipality must get the other municipality’s permission first.

That is correct: Section 72(1) of the MGA states “A municipality may acquire an estate or interest in land outside its boundaries only if (a) the council of the municipal authority in whose boundaries the land is located consents in writing to the acquisition…”

MacArthur wondered how Starland would react if Morrin declines this deal.

Plachner stated the village council has the authority to refuse the deal if they wish.

MacArthur suggested that the village should send a letter stating that because of COVID the village needs money too and has to turn down this request.

Councillors unanimously approved sending a letter in response to the M.D. of Starland declining their request to allow the purchase of four lots within the village.

New lighting

Councillors discussed an effort to have more lighting added to Morrin’s Hwy. 27 access. 

Mayor Hall reported that Alberta Transportation has the request but hasn’t sent out an engineer to examine the intersection yet. However, Hall voiced optimism that the engineer would also see concerns with the access.

The mayor noted Alberta Transportation will examine the safety situation at the access and if their engineer decides there is a safety issue, the provincial government will pay for the improvements.

Hall added that it’s possible the improvements would include a flashing light in the south-east corner of the intersection, on the left-hand side.

During discussion, councillors noted it’s difficult to see traffic coming at that intersection at night, especially in fog.


Stu Salkeld, Local Journalism Initiative reporter

ECA Review

About the author

Stu Salkeld

Stu Salkeld, who has upwards of 28 years of experience in the Alberta community newspaper industry, is now covering councils and other news in the Stettler region and has experience working in the area as well.

He has joined the ECA Review as a Local Journalism Initiative Journalist.

Stu earned his two-year diploma in print journalism from SAIT in Calgary from 1993 to ’95 and was raised in Oyen, Alta., one of the communities within the ECA Review’s coverage area.