Correction (May 20, 2021 at 11:28 a.m.): The sixth paragraph should read, “In essence, the RV rules would remain unchanged with the addition of the registration and fee.” Our apologies for any confusion this mistake caused.
Stettler County council approved an amendment to its Land Use Bylaw (LUB) that will in effect control the number of recreational vehicles (RVs) parked on private properties in the municipality.
The bylaw amendment was approved at the regular meeting of council May 12 after a public hearing was held which featured an extraordinary amount of public input.
Reeve Larry Clark called the public hearing to order, which was also conducted concurrently with three other public hearings.
Director of Planning Services Jacinta Donovan stated the bylaw amendment passed first reading and was publicly advertised.
Donovan’s memo to council stated, “Bylaw 1658-21 would provide for an amendment to Section 76 of the LUB, as amended, to provide for the temporary use of recreational vehicles within the various land use districts through a temporary development permit.”
“In essence, the RV rules would remain unchanged with the addition of the registration and fee.”
Also, a second RV could be allowed on the same parcel for up to five days if it also has a temporary permit.
It was stated at different times during the public hearing that the proposed changes would allow the county to better understand where and how RVs are occupied to answer problems such as multiple RVs parked for long periods of time on undeveloped lots in residential neighbourhoods.
Three letters were received in support of the changes stating large numbers of RVs don’t belong in residential neighbourhoods, that a limit of two RVs was fine and charging a fee was proper.
There were 24 letters provided to councillors in their agenda opposed to the changes. Most of the letters made the same points, including: RVs don’t turn lots into campgrounds, that such permits are unenforceable, that alternatives could be found by talking to residents, that property owners have a right to host RVs on their lots, that the current RV rules are sufficient, that property owners already pay taxes to the county, that such a permit system is illegal and that RV people who are good neighbours are being grouped with those who cause problems, among other concerns.
The reeve asked if there were any verbal submissions in support of the proposal, and Donovan stated there were none, however there were several verbal presentations against the proposal.
All the speakers echoed the concerns stated in the letters above.
After the reeve closed the public hearing, Chief Administrative Officer (CAO) Yvette Cassidy stated staff could suggest waiving the proposed $25 fee for permits for the first year but retaining mandatory registration for RVs. That way, Cassidy stated, the county could still track RVs.
Coun. Cheri Neitz stated she was in favour of pausing this amendment as camping has already begun around Stettler County without this system in place.
Neitz stated the council heard a huge amount of public feedback and that many people seem to want to be part of the solution. Neitz also stated the $25 fee seems to be a problem for many people.
Coun. James Nibourg stated the county has spent a lot of time on this issue, there are a lot of complaints about RV use, the fee can be seen simply as cost recovery for handling the issue and that the community is to be built with houses and homes.
Coun. Wayne Nixon stated he was concerned the changes would be tough to track and tough to enforce.
Councillors approved the amendment by a 5 to 2 vote, Neitz and Nixon opposed.
Later in the meeting councillors debated the rates and fees bylaw, which would also include the $25 RV permit fee mentioned above. Councillors approved the rates and fees bylaw with the $25 RV permit fee by a 5 to 2 vote, Neitz and Nixon opposed.
However, councillors approved by a 4 to 3 vote an amendment to the rates and fees bylaw which stated the $25 fee was waived for the rest of the 2021 calendar year, with Neitz, Nibourg and Dave Grover opposed.
Stu Salkeld, Local Journalism Initiative reporter