County of Stettler MPC waives waiting period for Ducks Unlimited

The County of Stettler MPC discussed a possible Ducks Unlimited conservation easement on SE 16-40-20-4 and a five acre parcel that may be subdivided in the future (marked in crosshatch). ECA Review/Submitted
Written by Stu Salkeld

The County of Stettler Municipal Planning Commission (MPC) has waived a 60-day waiting period for a conservation easement after a request from Ducks Unlimited.

The decision was made at the Jan. 25 regular MPC meeting.

The MPC is comprised of members of county council and chaired by Coun. James Nibourg.

Councillors read the Ducks Unlimited request presented by county planner Craig Teal.

“Ducks Unlimited Canada has submitted the attached conservation easement documents for the SE 16-40-20-4 along with a request that the county waive the 60 day notice period that must be provided to the county under the Alberta Land Stewardship Act,” stated Teal in his report to the board.

“The purpose of the 60-day notice period is to enable review of the implications of the conservation easement by the County. The 60-day notice period began on Jan. 19, 2023.”

According to the Government of Alberta, “A conservation easement is a legally recorded agreement by which landowners voluntarily restrict the use of their land to protect its natural and cultural heritage.”

Teal explained the conservation easement is negotiated between Ducks Unlimited and the property owners, who were listed on the easement documents as Terry Douglas Rowledge and Janet Gail Rowledge, with the 60-day referral period essentially a courtesy that gives the municipality a chance to voice any concerns to the two parties involved.

“There is no process available to the County of Stettler to prevent the registration of conservation easements,” stated Teal in his report.

However, the planner noted the conservation easement didn’t appear to have any effect on the County of Stettler.

“The conservation easement will place restrictions on the subject property and habitat areas as outlined in the attached drawings and agreement document,” stated Teal.

“Provision has been made to allow for future subdivision of a five acre parcel from the subject quarter section. The subject site falls within the Buffalo Lake Intermunicipal Development Plan (IDP).

It is not part of the south shore growth node and is subject to the ‘limited development area’ policies of the IDP.

The IDP limits use of the quarter to agriculture, first and second parcel out subdivisions for residential parcels, and limited recreational uses. The easement agreement restrictions fit with the direction laid out in the Buffalo Lake IDP.”

Teal explained it seems the property owners intend to subdivide a section off from the main parcel and that’s what the five acre piece is for.

Coun. Les Stulberg noted he liked to see the five acre piece earmarked for possible development as part of the easement.

“(A conservation easement) does sort of sterilize a lot of the land against future development for acreages if it gets too difficult,” said Stulberg.

Coun. Justin Stevens wondered why the southeast corner was selected for the five acre parcel as it seems the bottom corner was now inaccessible.

Coun. Nibourg noted he didn’t think the parcel had to be located in that exact spot, but Teal interjected and noted yes, it does seem the parcel would be located in that exact spot and that conservation work is not necessarily to be done there.

However, Teal pointed out even though the conservation easement is on that property some changes could possibly be made; the easement may require more steps to be taken.

Coun. Dave Grover noted he felt all county ratepayers should be treated the same way.

Reeve Larry Clarke agreed with Stulberg’s earlier comments that the five acre parcel was a good idea as it took into account possible future development.

Clarke asked Teal if the five acre parcel is developed into an acreage, how would septic service be provided with the conservation easement in effect?

Teal responded a treatment mound may be possible if soil conditions allow, an in field may be possible or a holding tank that needs to be emptied by a septic truck but open discharge isn’t possible because the parcel is too small.

The MPC voted 4 to 2 in favour of waiving the 60-day consultation period, with Nibourg, Stulberg, Stevens and Clarke in favour, Grover and Coun. Paul McKay opposed with Coun. Ernie Gendre absent from the vote.

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.