‘Dispute resolution’ begun over Stettler County’s Paradise Shores proposal

Written by Stu Salkeld

It looks like a case of “agree to disagree” when it comes to increasing the number of lots in a development near Buffalo Lake northwest of Stettler.

Stettler County, after a private “in camera” session at their regular meeting Mar. 11, decided to request dispute resolution with two summer villages with a desire to change the Buffalo Lake South Shore Intermunicipal Development Plan (BLSSIDP) with the intention of increasing the number of lots at a development located at NE 20-40-20 W4M, better known as the Paradise Shores property.

“County of Stettler administration received responses from the Summer Villages of Rochon Sands and White Sands stating their opposition to the County of Stettler’s formal request to amend the Buffalo Lake South Shore Intermunicipal Development Plan to provide for an increase in the allowable density of dwelling units (from 168 dwelling units to 325 dwelling units) on the NE 20-40-20W4M,” stated the agenda memo given to council at the meeting.

The item wasn’t discussed in the open meeting, but rather privately “in camera.”

County staff confirmed after the private discussion, councillors chose to begin dispute resolution with the summer villages.

“They passed a motion to initiate the dispute resolution procedures with the Summer Villages of White Sands and Rochon Sands, as outlined in the Buffalo Lake South Shore IDP… in regards to the Summer Villages denying the County’s request to increase density at the former Paradise Shores property.

Both summer villages baulked at the county’s suggestion of changing the BLSSIDP, citing various rulings made by the Subdivision Development Appeal Board (SDAB) in 2018 and Alberta Court of Appeal in 2019.

“In conclusion, the Summer Village of White Sands opposes amending the BLSSIDP density limits and feels that the processes over 2018 and 2019 proved that the BLSSIDP has performed in the way intended,” stated the letter signed by Summer Village Mayor Carl Cornelssen.

The mayor of Rochon Sands agreed. “In conclusion, the Summer Village of Rochon Sands opposes amending the BLSSIDP density limits and concludes the formal processes and decisions of the SDAB and Court of Appeal of Alberta must be upheld as the existing BLSSIDP as written,” stated the letter signed by Summer Village Mayor Dan Hiller.

In a letter sent to summer village residents dated Mar. 11, Stettler County Director of Planning Services Jacinta Donovan stated Stettler County sees opportunities on the Paradise shores property.

“The county does not disagree with or disparage the judgements of the County of Stettler’s SDAB or the province’s Court of Appeal,” stated Donovan’s letter.

“The county’s position is that its analysis of the density ratio calculation as outlined in Section 5.1.5 of the BLSSIDP is appropriate.

“However, we have identified the plan could more explicitly address application to forms of development other than multi-lot type residential subdivisions (i.e. campgrounds, hotels and other types of tourist accommodations).”

Dispute resolution is outlined in the BLSSIDP in Section 6.10, involving four stages: first, members of administration, second, CAOs meeting, third Planning Committee meeting and lastly stage four, which requires the appointment of a mediator.

Donovan noted in her letter Stettler County requested the dispute resolution begin at stage three, “In light of the numerous discussions on this matter.”

Donovan also noted, however, if necessary the process can begin at stage one and should begin by Mar. 20.

At the end of the letter, Donovan noted the county’s commitment to increasing the density numbers.

“If the issue of density cannot be resolved through the dispute resolution process, the county may consider exercising its option to withdraw from the BLSSIDP pursuant to section 6.9,” the letter added.


Stu Salkeld, LJI 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.