Stettler County reverses previous tax decision

Stettler County Council reversed its May 2016 decision to deny tax forgiveness on the McKay Family Joint Venture lots located in Heartland Business Park after Greg Hayden presented council with a new request at the Aug.10 regular meeting.

Hayden was looking for a 10-year agreement with the county to forgive 100 per cent of the municipal portion of the property taxes on unsold lots. Under the agreement, once the lots are sold, full taxes would be paid.

According to Hayden, because the lots are serviced, rezoning them back to agricultural land, which carries a lower tax rate than commercial zoning, was not an option. After the May decision, the group had considered the rezoning.

Council opted to approve 100 per cent forgiveness of the municipal portion for 2016. The amount forgiven was $23,179.79 of the total tax of $31,959.21.

Strong stance gets results

A weed notice issued by the county to Alberta Transportation to spray wormwood growing in highway ditches has garnered immediate results.

Quinton Beaumont, Director of Agricultural Services Board, reported to council that Renu-L-Tech Environmental Services is currently spraying the ditches.

According to Beaumont, Highways 56, 12, 850 and 853 have been completed and work on 53, 21, 835 and 590 is continuing.

The county issued 22 weed notices to the province for the areas in need of spraying, according to Assistant CAO Yvette Cassidy.

“Considering how much he’s spraying, progress is very good,” stated Beaumont.

A weed notice to Alberta

Transportation effectively tells the province to uphold its own Weed Control Act to control noxious or prohibited weeds along its highways. Because wormwood is a noxious weed, the county had the authority to issue the notice.

Other municipalities are noticing the results.

“It’s very good the County of Stettler took the lead on this,” stated Deputy Mayor Les Stulberg.

Council approved a motion to bring a resolution to the Central Zone of Alberta Association of Municipal Districts and Counties (AAMDC) that the provincial government provide more effective vegetation control along provincial highways. If endorsed, the resolution will proceed to the AAMDC resolutions committee.

Lake residents want direction

Buffalo Lake residents are seeking direction from the county on two fronts: how to deal with deadfall along the lakeshore in front of their properties as well as where to store docks or boat launches during the winter.

A delegation of property owners brought their concerns to council in order to get clarification on removal of deadfall if the county can’t or won’t remove what the property owners regard as a fire and safety hazard.

Johan van der Bank, Director of Planning and Development, recommended that council get legal advice for a draft of Policy 1.33 Maintenance and Protection of Reserve Land, which lays out things like county permission to remove deadfall, indemnity insurance, fines and security deposits.

Council approved a motion to get legal advice on the draft policy.

Council also gave first reading to Bylaws 1569-16 and 1570-16. The first is to amend Land Use Bylaw 1443-10 to allow for temporary private storage of boat lifts or docks on environment reserve land and the second is to allow for specific reserve lands to be used for said storage.

Some properties, especially those not on the waterfront, have nowhere to store docks or lifts. Owners are seeking a way to either store them on ER or reserve land through a permitting system. The public hearing on both bylaws will be at the next county meeting.

Erosion gets emergency fix

Rob Grandfield appeared before council to make an appeal on behalf of Abbey Road residents for emergency funding to install 120 feet of rip-rap to prevent shoreline erosion.

According to Grandfield, $15,000 worth of  rip-rap would prevent further erosion of the Buffalo Lake beach and flooding of treed areas that are not currently protected by the berm previously developed by residents.
Council approved funding the project from Special Recreational Funds.

Third year running for festival

The county will again be a sponsor of the Stettler Pheasant Festival for the third year of the successful event.
Donna Morris gave an update to council about plans for this year’s festival, which already has 100 hunts sold.

“We’re please with this based on Alberta’s economy,” stated Morris of the number of hunts sold.
Council approved a platinum sponsorship of $5000.

Lock it up

Property related crimes are up across the province especially in rural areas but that comes as “no surprise” to RCMP Sgt. Phil Penny, who gave a quarterly update to council.

Economic factors have added to the rise, although Penny stated it’s beginning to taper off. Penny attributed this to the economy stabilizing somewhat.

Items stolen from the Stettler area have shown up as far away as Cranbrook, BC. Penny stressed the need for people to do simple things to deter theft, like locking cars and doors, and keeping records that would make identifying stolen items easier.

“Write down serial numbers. These are all basic things that people don’t do.”

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