Town of Bashaw considers approving ‘bunkhouse’ application

·3 min read

Bashaw town council will consider a development permit application for a “bunkhouse” which has already been placed on a lot in town. The decision was made at the May 16 regular meeting of council.

Town Chief Administrative Officer (CAO) Theresa Fuller presented councillors with a development permit for a shed that’s intended to be used as a bunkhouse.

“Development permit No. 2022-1 is for the addition on a pre-built 18 by 30 foot outbuilding shed to a Direct Control (DC) zone located at 5007 54 Avenue,” stated Fuller’s report to council, with the application noting the property is owned by Connie Nand who was present at the meeting.

“Upon review it was noted that additional accessory buildings have been placed on the property. There are a total of four accessory buildings on the site currently.”

It was noted the purpose of the building would be, “She/shed/man cave, guest house, storage space to accommodate large family when sleeping over, create an area for hobbies, and provide extra storage...Warm up shack for skating.

“As the applicant has indicated the space will be utilized for sleeping, the most applicable definition within the Land Use Bylaw (LUB) for the proposed accessory building (shed) is housing, secondary suite; being a self-contained living space.

However, the applicant notes that the building will not have a kitchen or washroom facilities at this time.

“An alternative development option is a bunkhouse, which is not currently a use listed within the LUB. A bunkhouse does not require washroom facilities, kitchen, etc.

However, it can only be used by the landowners and the users must have access to the facilities within the house.

“Furthermore, the LUB specifically states in section 8.1(3) that ‘An accessory building shall not be used as a dwelling unit.’ This exclusion effectively removes the possibility of a bunkhouse.”

Fuller mentioned that when human habitation is included certain safety codes must be met.

Nand mentioned the shed’s primary use would be for extra accommodation when she has too many guests to host in her home.

Mayor Rob McDonald asked if the shed fit within the town’s LUB, and Fuller answered no, because of its size.

However, Fuller added that the lot in question is located within the DC zone which means the planning authority is town council and there are no predetermined setbacks.

Professional planner Liz Armitage, who has been contracted by the town, stated that, if approved, the development permit should clearly state one way or another that the shed in question either is or is not a secondary suite with the expectation that all documentation will prove it meets safety codes.

Coun. Kyle McIntosh noted that if it’s referred to as a bunkhouse, it can only be used by the property owner and not guests.

During discussion Armitage pointed out that development permits don’t require public consultation but that the planning authority usually notifies the public when something has been approved.

She also noted that planners tend not to make a distinction between a permanent building and one, for example, on skids as the specific use is what’s important, not whether or not it’s anchored in the ground.

When Mayor McDonald did an informal survey of council on this application McIntosh stated he would oppose it, while councillors Bryan Gust, Cindy Orom and Jackie Northey stated they were not opposed to it.

Councillors eventually voted 4 to 1 to deem the application complete and proceed to consideration.

The application will return to a future council meeting.

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

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