County resident voices concerns about Buffalo Lake plan changes

ECA Review/File
Written by Stu Salkeld

A County of Stettler resident voiced concerns at a public hearing for proposed changes to the Buffalo Lake Intermunicipal Development Plan (BLIDP), referred to as Bylaw 1637-20. 

The public hearing was held via Youtube by the County of Stettler Aug. 12.

The public hearing was chaired by Reeve Larry Clarke and after calling the hearing to order Director of Planning Services Jacinta Donovan described proposed changes to the plan, which affects members Camrose County, the County of Stettler No. 6, Lacombe County, the Summer Village of Rochon Sands and the Summer Village of White Sands.

“The proposed changes to the current BLIDP are considered administrative in nature and focus on clarifying the document to ensure that all municipalities are interpreting it in the same way,” stated Donovan, who noted the hearing had been publicly advertised with pandemic options available for the public.

“The proposed changes do not change growth node areas, densities, uses, or other amendments that substantially change the intent of the BLIDP.

“It also provides additional guidance to administration on when municipalities must notify each other of activities in the BLIDP, how and when those notifications occur, and the limitations on what comments will be accepted.”

Donovan provided a list of 21 proposed changes to the BLIDP, including, “Allows home-based businesses in accessory structures, if permitted in the governing municipalities LUB; previously the IDP said home-based businesses were allowed in the primary structure only, though member municipalities allowed them in accessory structures.”

Clarke asked if there were any written or verbal presentations in support of the application, but there were none. 

He asked if there were any written or verbal presentations opposed to the application, and a county resident, Justin Stevens, spoke by teleconference.

“I feel obligated to speak at this public hearing after hearing a county rep state at the previous Paradise Shores hearing that we had lost our opportunity to speak and they already did their consultation at the IDP, it was too late now. If that was the opinion during the development stage hearing then we have no choice to make our feelings known now during the review,” said Stevens.

“I have noticed that the documentation and discussion around the review clearly stated that density would not be changed as it is a minor review and that would require a major review. 

“This brings forth a question that I’m still confused about. Why is the density of Paradise Shores in the process of being amended from 168 to 395? 

“If a major review is required lets perform the major review. 

“Why are they still getting special rules? The developer has openly stated that 350 would not make his development viable. So what purpose does it serve the county and ratepayers allowing 325?”

Stevens stated he had several suggestions to address issues such as traffic density and speeding. Would the parties agree to at least explore some fashion of walking trails.

“I would like the IDP to more clearly define what rural lake lifestyle is. If it is still the intent to not negatively affect the rural lake lifestyle it would be great to know what constitutes the ‘rural lake lifestyle.’

“Would the parties entertain the idea of adding a requirement for bonds on large commercial developments?

“It has long been rumoured that a minority of cabins had questionable septic systems. It would be nice if we could somehow allow greater enforcement to protect the lake long term,” he added.

No one else wished to speak at the hearing.

Donovan responded by stating density reductions are within the Buffalo Lake South Shore IDP and therefore comply. She also noted residences are required to have sewage holding tanks.

The public hearing was closed and Donovan recommended in her report, “That council postpones second and third reading of Bylaw No. 1637-20 until after the Sept. 18, 2020 BLIDP committee meeting at which time all comments received at the public hearing held in the member municipalities will be reviewed.” 

Councillors agreed to do this.


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.