Stettler County gives ATCO work camp three year approval

The proposed ATCO work camp site on the east side of the County of Stettler. ECA Review/Submitted
Written by Stu Salkeld

The County of Stettler Municipal Planning Commission (MPC) essentially gave a large utility corporation’s work camp proposal a three year permit. The approval was made at the June 26 regular MPC meeting.

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

The board heard a development permit application from large utility corporation ATCO, wishing to build a work camp at SE-40-16-W4M on a parcel owned by Dallas and Vickie Lang.

The application was read by Development Officer Rich Fitzgerald, who noted such a work camp is a discretionary use in the agriculture zone. “The subject property is a 159 acre bare parcel along the eastern border of the county,” stated the report to the board. “The property is currently used as pasture land with no structures or utilities located on the subject property.

“Access to the property is via Sec. Hwy. #601, so the applicant is required to obtain a roadside development permit, which they have applied for.

“ATCO is proposing to use the subject property to house equipment, workers, materials tools and fuel on site for the Central East Transfer Out Transmission Line Project (CETO). This project was approved by the Alberta Utilities Commission (AUC) in 2021. The project is expected to run until the end of the calendar year.

“Rig mats will be used to cover the ground, and no stripping of topsoil or adding of gravel will take place. Wastewater will be contained in containment units and hauled away periodically by vac truck. The equipment onsite will consist of a maximum of 10 modular trailers, a wash cart, garbage bins, equipment washing station, and fuel storage with secondary containment.”

Runoff is a typical concern with a large work camp situation, which Fitzgerald addressed in his report. “Surface water for the site will be managed to ensure that property and positive surface flows are maintained around the (camp),” stated the development officer. “This will be done using hay bales and swales.”

During discussion Fitzgerald noted ATCO employees would be living onsite in up to 10 ATCO trailers; he stated several times during the presentation no more than 200 people would be on the site at any given time.

It was noted there are no nearby residences and the proposal meets all setback rules. It was stated ATCO proposed entering the site in July, 2024.

The development officer noted he had one suggestion for the application: boosting the time periods proposed. He recommended boosting ATCO’s work period from one to two years and the reclamation period from six months to one year.

Other than that Fitzgerald stated the only conditions the County of Stettler proposed were standard.

Board member Nibourg asked how this work camp would be taxed, noting it would not be in agricultural production for three years. Nibourg stated it appeared the only money ATCO would pay to the municipality was the $300 development permit fee.

Manager of Planning and Development Craig Teal stated he didn’t know the answer to that question, but would forward it to the county’s tax department.

Readers should note in the taxation world property is generally assessed and taxed according to its use, not necessarily to its zoning.

During discussion board members noted they had no concerns about the application. They approved ATCO’s work camp development permit.

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.