Stettler County MPC concerned about summer village’s ‘guest houses’

·3 min read

The County of Stettler’s Municipal Planning Commission (MPC) voiced concern over a summer village’s proposed changes to its major planning bylaw. The concern was voiced at the Stettler County MPC meeting May 25.

The MPC is chaired by Coun. James Nibourg and the board is comprised of county councillors.

Director of Planning Services Jacinta Donovan presented board members with the Summer Village of White Sands’ draft Land Use Bylaw (LUB) which is currently being updated; the summer village is located at Buffalo Lake.

It was noted in the documentation the bylaw already passed first reading and a public hearing had already been held.

“The Summer Village of White Sands has provided a draft copy of their updated Land Use Bylaw 186-22 pursuant to Section 4.71(iii) of the Buffalo lake Inter-Municipal Development Plan (BLIDP),” stated Donovan's memo to council.

“The definition of a ‘development unit’ provided in the draft LUB aligns with the definition identified in the BLIDP.

“Section 2.7 of the draft bylaw stipulates a maximum of one permanent recreational vehicle (RV) may be parked on a parcel at any time subject to obtaining an annual permit.

Guest RVs may be parked on a parcel for a duration of no more than 30 days after which time the additional RV units must be removed from the property for 10 consecutive days.

“The draft bylaw identifies 16 parcels of land of which development permits were issued for two permanent RV units in 2021.

The bylaw proposes to provide for the continued use of two RV units on the subject properties until such time as a ‘change to the parcel by way of a development permit, subdivision or by an ownership change at Alberta Land Titles.’

“The draft bylaw provides for the storage of one recreational vehicle on a parcel of land developed with a dwelling unit (detached dwelling),” added Donovan.

She explained the summer village is proposing to amend their LUB to align with the BLIDP, ensuring definitions in both documents are the same.

However, she pointed out one concern which was the definition of “accessory use,” and stated that the proposed bylaw does offer some possibility to be interpreted as allowing an accommodation unit as it stands.

Donovan suggested the MPC propose an amendment to that section which reads to the effect no accessory to be used for accommodation.

However, Chair Nibourg was skeptical the summer village would agree.

“They’ll never go for it,” said Nibourg. “They’ll never go for it ‘cause that’s what they’re using these for, they have their little homes out there.” Nibourg suggested sending the proposed change anyway.

Parkland Community Planning Services Planner Craig Teal stated he felt the summer village was making a solid effort with this proposed bylaw to both manage future growth and stay within agreed-upon total development units.

“So they seem to be making the honest attempt,” said Teal, who added they also seem to be making an attempt to strengthen the regulatory regime.

However, Teal did refer to the same concern Donovan mentioned, referring to it as “a loophole” and “a weakness.”

Nibourg asked how many guest houses currently exist in the summer village and Teal answered he didn’t know but to address any new ones he suggested “eliminating that loophole.”

Reeve Larry Clarke noted that Stettler County asked that question of White Sands two years ago in a joint meeting and never received an answer.

Nibourg stated he felt guest houses should be accounted for under the dwelling unit system and should be considered residences.

Coun. Justin Stevens wanted to point out it seems septic inspections, enforcement and upgrades are to be stepped up in this proposed bylaw, benefits to the lake that he was happy to see.

Board members passed a resolution that they suggest White Sands address the guest home loophole and also provide the MPC with the number of currently existing guest homes in the summer village.

Stu Salkeld, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, East Central Alberta Review

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