Stettler County looking at parking, access signs near Buffalo Lake

Stettler County sign - south entrance. (Terri Huxley/ECA Review)
Written by Stu Salkeld
The County of Stettler will look at signing options on the south side of Buffalo Lake as the municipality continues with its Bayview Street extension. 
An in-depth report was given to councillors during their July 8 regular meeting.
Several senior staff members contributed to the Bayview Street extension report, including Chief Administrative Officer (CAO) Yvette Cassidy, Director of Operations Rick Green and Director of Municipal Services Andrew Brysiuk. 
Councillors looked at several issues from the area including emergency access and parking problems.
The report initially focused on responding to a few questions that residents of Rochon Sands Heights had about the extension of Bayview Street, which runs along the south side of Buffalo Lake.
Staff also showed photos they took of problems in that area.
Staff noted the Bayview extension is scheduled to be completed in the fall of 2020, taking into account factors such as bad weather.
The Rochon Sands Heights residents also asked about traffic counts and staff noted such counts were being conducted. 
As well, residents asked about several types of signs, including “Local Traffic Only” signs. 
Two councillors, James Nibourg and Les Stulburg, noted they were opposed to such signs as they aren’t completely accurate; the roads are public, as is the lake itself.
Nibourg also stated he felt suggestions about placing a gate over the road should be, in essence, ignored. 
Nibourg stated it’s not legal for the municipality to block a public road and the request shouldn’t be discussed any further.
He was also concerned about residents in that area hiring steam trucks to pressure wash the sides of their homes. 
Nibourg stated he was concerned the trucks were overweight for the roads involved but staff stated they didn’t think that was the case.
Cassidy stated the county is pondering erecting signs at the County of Stettler and summer village boundary clearly stating the weight restrictions.
Staff also presented information on properties in that area and how they were being used, including the parking of RVs on public property. 
A number of photographs were shown of lots with a number of RVs parked on them, and they discussed instances where six or seven RVs were parked on one parcel, in addition to one parcel that had “port-a-potties” in use.
A number of the photos showed campers parked on the shoulders of narrow public roads, and councillors discussed options for dealing with the problem.
Ticketing and towing were both mentioned. 
Staff noted towing a vehicle requires certain conditions, including breaking laws such as blocking a fire hydrant, having no license plate visible or potentially causing a hazard to persons or property.
Coun. Dave Grover stated RVs parked on narrow roads, which could block fire truck or ambulance access, are a hazard to persons or property.
Councillors also discussed a loophole being used where some property owners use a water tote rather than a municipal water supply. 
Since those residents don’t get billed much for water use, their associated sewer bills are also low despite the fact that many are actually using considerable sewer services. 
Councillors discussed options available, such as increasing flat fees.
Councillors continued to debate which, if any, new signs needed to go up in the area. 
They decided to simply accept the report for information but also directed staff to develop a plan for addressing problems such as emergency access and parking on public property through signage and bring the plan back to council at a future meeting.
Stu Salkeld
Local Journalism Initiative reporter

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.