Stettler County: Buffalo Lake garage allowed if geotechnical report included

ECA Review/File
Written by Stu Salkeld

Stettler County’s Municipal Planning Commission (MPC) approved a Buffalo Lake area garage if a geotechnical report is completed on a slope. 

The decision was made at the March 22 MPC meeting.

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

Development Officer Jacinta Donovan presented an application for a variance to allow for the construction of a garage estimated in value at $50,000 located at 35 MacDonald Dr. in Scenic Sands, a community located at Buffalo Lake. 

Parcel owners were listed as Jean Marie and Madalyn Vachon and the applicant was listed as Barry Green, who was present at the meeting to answer questions.

Donovan explained in her report that Green was applying for a variance that would allow an 824 square foot ancillary building, or garage, to be built on the parcel in question; the variance would drop the front yard setback from 25 feet to 10 feet. 

“The proposed location of the ancillary building is at the toe of a slope with a grade which appears to exceed 15 per cent,” stated Donovan’s report to board members.

Nibourg, when examining maps of the parcel, noted another ancillary building present and asked if the number of structures was an issue, to which Donovan answered the county regulates the number of structures on a parcel but in this case it was below the threshold.

Coun. Justin Stevens noted an overhead power line and wanted to know if there was a problem with the proposed garage being close to it. 

Green stated that the power line will be altered if the garage is approved: it will be an overhead line to the garage, then underground to the residence.

After discussion staff noted the power line in question is private, so it doesn’t affect the application.

Board members spent a considerable amount of time discussing the proposed garage’s overhang, with Stevens noting he didn’t have a problem with the overhang as long as it’s entirely on the owner’s property.

Nibourg stated the county has had instances where overhangs were built too close to a neighbour and that neighbour then complained, resulting in the builder being forced to fix the problem with “substantial” expense. 

After discussion councillors noted Green was proposing a setback along the side of the garage greater than the minimum required which addressed their concerns.

Board members also discussed the considerable nearby slope. 

When asked if stability was an issue. Donovan responded the grade at the toe of the slope was 17.5 per cent and county bylaws require a slope stability report in such cases; she also added the slope isn’t on the side facing the lake. 

Green stated he was aware of the $2,500 report but didn’t get one done because he wanted to see what the MPC decided first.

Board members unanimously approved Green’s application as presented with the requirement that the slope stability report must be completed before the development permit is issued.


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.