County will take soft hand approach regarding Buffalo Lake RV Resort

Stettler administration met with representatives from all Buffalo Lake South Shore Community Associations and the Summer Village of White Sands and Rochon Sands councils on Oct. 17 and 24, respectively.

The county provided the two groups with an update on the current status of the site, Buffalo Lake RV Resort, and also on the most recent history of events regarding the property, and the introduction to the new landowners and their recent involvement.

Representatives of the community associations expressed an interest in meeting and talking with the landowners personally, while the summer village councils expressed solely an interest, at the moment, of being provided with information such as: emergency response requirements including shadow population during peak periods; what are other options for development of this site?; can the developer be held responsible for all environmental concerns?; there is a need to add ‘soils engineering’ requirements to bylaws for lakefront developments to mitigate all environmental concerns; and the need to address Alberta Environment’s approach of not issuing their permit/inspection prior to the municipality issuing a development permit.

White Sands council would like to see business plans and concrete plans from the developer.

South Shore Community Association had environmental hazards/concerns and asked about the unit density process.

All three south shore members would be required to hold public hearings.

The county is seeking to amend the density on the 83-acre site, then put a moratorium on development until the Buffalo Lake IDP and the Buffalo Lake.

Administration looked to council for further direction as the first round of consultations have concluded at their regular meeting on Wed. Nov. 6.

“We’re spinning our wheels here a little bit,” said Chief Administrative Officer (CAO) Yvette Cassidy.

In order for the resort to breakeven, they need 328 units but the Subdivision and Development Appeal Board ruled that they will allow a maximum of 168 units on site.

The resort already has 318 built with a few at the substandard condition.

It was explained that each lot owner pays a maintenance fee to keep the park up and meeting obligations.

“If they could sell another $3.5 million, gives them capital to play with. [They] Would at least like to have all the ones who have paid (220) to get there,” concluded Cassidy.

Council and administration agreed to ‘start with soft hand approach’ as soon as they can by organizing another meeting involving the county, the new landowners of the resort, the summer villages, and south shore residents.

“It will be a nice opportunity for each to pitch to the others and hear all the positive things of working together,” said CAO Cassidy.

Erskine Waterline Hook-up reimbursement denied

Jim Lynham of Erskine, Alta. requested the county pay a $1,280 reimbursement in overages after a water hook up quote was interpreted incorrectly.

Lynham stated that he received a quote from 1-Up Plumbing & Heating in Stettler for $2,000 to connect his nephew’s waterline in Erskine, which he accepted.

He maintains that due to misinformation he received from the County of Stettler about the size of the curb stop, $1,280 in overcharges were incurred.

These overcharges are the cost of a Universal Municipal Coupling at $195 and three-and-a-half hours extra for the track hoe and labour incurred while having to go obtain proper fittings.

Environmental Services informed them it was a one-inch pipe.

This one-inch pipe can come in two different pipe threads – iron or copper which affects the connection.

“Ultimately we know the contractor who installed Erskine waterlines did so with DR 11 – 1” pipe, but we do not know what each service is – we have since been informed it may be iron or it may be copper.

It was noted that future installations need to plan to have both couplings at the ready, in the event that each installation is not the same.

The county is responsible for everything up to the curb stop. Councillors didn’t buy into the story after a motion to reimburse the full amount was turned down two to five opposed.

“All of us have done projects where they are higher than they originally thought,” said Coun. Les Stulberg.

“I don’t buy the story,” added Coun. Ernie Gendre.

“It should have been up to the tradesperson. Not the county.”

The idea of precedent was also a concern as councillors were worried this could start a flood of people seeking county dollars for these types of situations.

Fire invoice not forgiven

The Johnson family sent in a request to council to pay for a fire invoice worth $1,020.

On June 4, 2019, Martin Johnson, his wife and two of their hired men were out setting flax stubble piles on fire.

A fire permit was issued previously. It was reported that at approximately 11:45 a.m., a black SUV pulled in and drove back out of the field only to have fire trucks arrive 15 minutes later.

“Our hired hand, Cecil, finally had to go over to them and ask what they were doing. He told them they had a phone call that there was a fire out of control.

“Cecil tells him they are not out of control and that we have a fire permit. They continued putting the fires out and then two more fire trucks arrived. They proceeded to put every fire out that we had started for the next five hours.”

They then receive an $1,020 invoice in the mail for the fire control.

“First of all we had the fire permit, second of all, it was not out of control and we had people watching it,” the note from the landowners to council stated. “Thirdly, nobody contacted us to see if there was a problem and lastly after they realized it wasn’t out of control they continued for the next five hours of putting out all of the fires that we had started.”

Stettler’s regional fire chief, Mark Dennis, recommended they talk to council about this invoice if they had issues with it.

In a short summary, Dennis had a differing opinion to the family. He noted there was no one attending to the burn piles which had burned through a slough before heading for a bush patch.

The firefighters attending the scene felt the situation was not under control so they put the fire out.

As part of the permit’s policies, equipment is needed on site to help control the burn as it happens.

No equipment was found on site.

The landowner had indicated to the department they were not attending to this particular fire as they were in another field starting another one.

Council felt uninformed and requested a copy of the specific parameters of a fire permit for their knowledge.

They voted to not forgive the invoice.

“It’s something we need to look at so we don’t have ambiguous interpretations [in the future],” said Coun. Nibourg.

Red Deer County exemption request

Jacinta Donovan, Director of Planning and Development, gave council an option to create an exemption for a Municipal Government Act requirement.

All municipalities with a common border are required to create an Inter Collaboration Framework (ICF) and Intermunicipal Development Plan (IDP).

Since Red Deer County and the County of Stettler share a border they fall under this rule but one of the exemptions to this is if the boundary is a river which in this case is.

Council agreed to submit an exemption letter to Municipal Affairs Mutual aid agreements are already in place.

Community Aggregate Bylaw

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

First reading was passed for the community aggregate bylaw which oversees rates to charge to help with the maintenance fees associated with the road infrastructure.

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.


Terri Huxley

ECA Review

About the author

ECA Review