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County council debates watershed protection rezoning application

County of Wetaskiwin No.10 - Submitted
County of Wetaskiwin No.10
— image credit: Submitted

With concerns a property application does not meet watershed protection zoning requirements, County of Wetaskiwn council is hoping the applicant will agree to rezone only 20 acres of the original 148.77, at this time.

Director of planning and economic development David Blades said perquisites for watershed protection state 80 per cent of the land must have mature tree cover or contain historic wetlands.

A noted point of concern over the application is, “over half the (soil) property is rated above 30 per cent,” said Blades.

Councillors approved first reading of a motion to adjust the area proposed to only the southeast portion of the land located at NE 26-46-2W5M, as the smaller area is considered satisfactory in meeting watershed protection requirements.

Council avoided giving three readings to the motion to allow administration time to ensure the applicant is comfortable moving forward with the smaller section of land.

Applicant John Phippen informed council a lot of the tree coverage on the land does not show up well on the map used during the April 11 planning and economic development meeting because it is comprised of willows and muskeg.

“There’s a lot of it that’s unfarmable you can’t cultivate it,” said Phippen. He explained to council his senior relatives had attempted to farm the land but the rocky soil was hard on the farm equipment. “We pasture that quarter but that’s about all you can do,” said Phippen.

With the 20 acres of appropriate land still being considered for rezoning, council noted the remainder of the land could be re-applied for at a later date when the willows have grown to 80 per cent mature tree coverage.

Coun. Terry Van de Kraats was concerned about allowing the land to be rezoned to watershed protection, as Phippen plans to subdivide the 20 acres at a later date. Van de Kraats said he didn’t want subdivided land to contribute to a growing shortage of pasture land. “I hate to lose any agricultural land and I hate to lose pasture land.”

Phippen pointed out, with the land’s current agricultural zoning, there is still a possibility for the land to be subdivided.

Several parcels of land in the area have been rezoned watershed protection in the last two decades and Phippen questioned why his land was not rezoned at that time.

Coun. Garry Dearing says in the early to mid 1990s logging companies were offering good money to farmers for the lumber, and the council of the day had to start rezoning land watershed protection to protect the tree coverage.

Dearing says he suspects Phippen’s was not rezoned at that time because the companies were not interested in the willows or muskeg.

 

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