RM of Lumsden Meeting Highlights April 15th, 2021

·8 min read

Seven Meadows Farms submitted a discretionary use application for a commercial greenhouse. Reeve Kent Farago questioned the intention for limited onsite sales at the site as he had concerns regarding the level of traffic it would create. He used the example of Pumpkin Hollow as he said it was supposed to be a small operation. He asked, “How do we keep something like this in check.”

Councillor Cody Jordison provided more information around the application. Seven Meadows is the same operation that has applied and received approval for a cidery. Jordison said that SLGA had not processed the application for final approval of the cidery. Jordison said a small greenhouse was always part of the plan; however, the bulk of the land remains to be used to grow apples. Also, the owner has a second approach that he is developing at his own cost and site lines wouldn’t be an issue and is also willing to provide dust control around the area for extra safety.

Jordison said he has made the applicant aware of the issues that had surrounded Pumpkin Hollow and that from the Council’s perspective, they are ok now but would dig their heels in if it goes too far. The Reeve asked the Director of Planning and Development, Aimee Bryck, if they could put a caveat in as to the amount of vehicle traffic to the property.

Councillor Andrews had concerns that the RM had approved the cidery based on no onsite sales and felt they wouldn’t be able to control that if they allowed sales from the greenhouse.

The Reeve said he does not have any problem with a business; however, the residents expect little to no traffic. “How do we stop it from turning into the potential of a Pumpkin Hollow when all of a sudden on a weekend you get 2000 people visiting in a day?”

Bryck said that in a discretionary use application, they can put conditions on the permit but would have to consider how they would police it after the fact. Farago said he would be ok with it becoming more significant if the neighbours were ok with it and the infrastructure could handle it. Jordison said he spoke with one of the neighbours, who said they were excited about it. Bryck added the applicant has said they intend to maintain the residential nature of their property and be sensitive to substantial growth of the commercial operation. She said the RM could enter into a road maintenance agreement if it were felt it was required. The operation is located on the Regina Beach/Lagoon haul road, which the RM is in discussions with Regina Beach to rebuild the road.

Council decided to table the matter until Bryck and Jordison engage the applicant in further discussions around the Council’s concerns and look at ways to mitigate those concerns.

Council discussed an application from TR Aluminum Designs for a commercial business. The business manufactures and prepares aluminum docks. The Council initially thought SAMA had assessed the building as commercial; however, they found it was assessed as agricultural after further review. Council approved the application with conditions of attaining a heritage resource clearance and a change in assessment to commercial from ag.

Councillor Jordison is a member of the Regina Beach Relations Committee as well as the Inter-Municipal Utilities Committee. Regina Beach owns the lagoon that is located in the RM of Lumsden. The RM has been working towards attaining a cost-sharing agreement with Regina Beach for upgrading the lagoon haul road, which Jordison spoke to Council on the matter.

He reported that Regina Beach hasn’t been cooperative in general and hadn’t made themselves available to set up a meeting to discuss the matter. He said the committee assumed there might be financing issues.

The committee was not in a position to make a recommendation; however, they have an idea and are hopeful that the RM will cover the entire 1/3 of the local/provincial/federal grant to rebuild the road. The RM paying the 1/3 would be contingent on Regina Beach implementing a toll plan where trucks are scanned at the entry to the lagoon site. He said that Regina Beach has indicated they are favourable to the toll plan.

A company would provide the toll service and would distribute the monies collected. The system would cost approximately $100,000. The RM would set the rates, and the company would take a percentage.

Jordison thought the first goal for the RM would be to recoup their initial input of 1/3 as they didn’t feel it fair for the entirety of the RM to be subsidizing the road. Once the third is paid, future monies would go into financing the road and be 100% self-funded.

Reeve Farago reiterated that these are just ideas to discuss with Regina Beach. As Regina Beach is a new council, he felt they should be given a little leeway regarding the Council’s perceived reasons behind their lack of co-operation.

Councillor Andrew questioned the logic behind the inputs behind the toll booth plan. Both the Reeve and Councillor Jordison explained the benefit would be for long-term maintenance of the road. Jordison provided further data supporting the idea that if it would take 20,000 to cover the costs as 5$ per load, there are upwards of 200 loads per day going into the lagoon during the peak summer season and said it wouldn’t take long to recoup the cost.

The town of Lumsden sent a request to the RM for a bylaw to restrict the use of firearms within a certain distance of town. Reeve Farago said that the federal law is 500 yards from a residence. Councillor Jordison said he didn’t think that was correct as he believed it to be a hunting regulation.

The RCMP sent a Corman Park bylaw to the RM, which the CAO said was put in place because the RCMP was having difficulty controlling a situation where the RM didn’t have a bylaw and individuals were lawfully able to discharge a firearm.

The Reeve wanted to know what the federal law says and was adamant it wasn’t under Hunting laws.

Assistant Administrator Krystal Strong said at the Town meeting when the RCMP met with the town council. She asked the RCMP about the 500-meter requirement. She said the member responded in an email saying that if people are on their property and are shooting the firearm safely, they are within their rights to do so. The email further noted that the only thing that would provide restrictions is an RM bylaw prohibiting use within the limit of another property or the town of Lumsden. The member added they did some research and didn’t see the 500-meter clause in any statute. The RCMP member consulted the Division firearm expert, who provided the opinion that the person firing the firearm was not in any contravention of any statute or law.

Reeve Farago said that when Deer Valley attempted to gain approval from residents to deal with coyotes in the area, a person had to be designated a peace officer. He explained that you are allowed to shoot dangerous animals within 500 meters without permission as a peace officer. Farago said he would gather the information he has to send to the RCMP.

Nearly all of the Council felt that it wasn’t their place to put bylaws in place to restrict firearms. Council decided to table the request for further investigation.

Update** The RM received clarification from the RCMP on April 23rd. Shooting/target practice/pest control activities are NOT considered hunting; therefore, the 500 meters does not apply to them. HOWEVER, there is always a duty of care required. Careless use of a firearm is a criminal code offence.

This year is a revaluation year on property assessments, and as a result, residential assessments have increased. The CAO said she had received calls from people worried about how the increases in their revaluations would affect their taxes.

Lumsden has a significant amount of acreage owners who will be hit hard by the increase. The CAO said she feels for people because some acreages have seen their property values increase upwards of $200,000. When she speaks with people on the phone, she will ask if they believe their properties are valued at the assessment, and they say they are, which would be hard to argue the assessment is incorrect. The Reeve noted it is no different than the last assessment when SAMA increased agricultural land substantially.

Meetings of the RM are open to the public and are being held over Zoom. The next meeting is on May 6th at 1 pm. Meeting invitations are available by contacting the Municipal office.

- Jenifer Argue, Local Journalism Initiative reporter

Note: These reports may be abridged for content

Jennifer Argue, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Last Mountain Times