An attempt to have part of the Mulhurst Bay rezoned will have to go through the entire planning process after County of Wetaskiwin council turned down a request to waive the area structure plan.
The decision was made at the Sept. 13 Development and Planning meeting as part of an agenda item called “request to waive area structure plan- Oliver –Cameron Highlands.” Cameron Highlands is a neighbourhood in Mulhurst Bay, which is a county administered hamlet.
The issue was related to an appearance at the June 19 Public Works Committee meeting by Cameron Highlands resident Dean Oliver, who stated restrictions on RV use on vacant properties was detrimental to the community. Oliver proposed he gather information and support for a rezoning of part or all of Cameron Highlands to Mixed Recreational Residential from the current Country Residential.
A new MRR zone would better accommodate RVs on vacant lots; the current CR restricts the number allowed. This has been a cause for conflict within the Mulhurst Bay community, as RV supporters state they’re only doing what they’ve been doing for decades, while homeowners state the RV people are breaking rules and being disruptive.
According to the meeting agenda, “On August 2, 2018, Administration received a request from Dean Oliver to waive the Area Structure Plan requirement for the Cameron Highlands Subdivision, located within NW 14-47-28-W4M, within the Hamlet of Mulhurst Bay. Mr. Oliver is requesting the waiver of ASP in order to “have the full subdivision of Cameron Highlands, or a portion thereof (Highland Road), Mulhurst rezoned to Mixed Recreational Residential.”
Oliver stated within his letter, “Outreach to the opponents of RVs in Cameron Highlands has included a recent offer made, by the County to mediate a meeting of both sides to try to find common ground. Neither of the vocal opponents of RVs copied on the e-mail responded to the invitation. After a period of 8 days I re-iterated the invite via another e-mail (see below). Unfortunately, there was again no response.
“Many of those who have homes (these outnumber RV only properties about 3 to 1), for whom the rezone will have no real direct effect want the RVs to stay. They prefer the neighbourhood mix as it is as they see RVs as a positive contributor to the ‘lake feel’ of the area.
“Support for the re-zoning of the subdivision, as a whole, is at 46/64 property owners or 72 per cent. Support for re-zoning of Highlands Road only is at 27/30 (one not heard from) or 90 per cent. Not all property owners have registered an opinion. The majority of owners want Cameron Highlands to stay the way it is, as opposed to the way the Country Residential zoning dictates. RV users and ‘homeowners’ in Cameron Highlands stand largely united in support of this.”
Director of Planning and Development David Blades spoke to council about the application; it was noted that this item was not a public hearing or a delegation, so council exclusively would discuss it. Many members of the public were in attendance.
Blades said the ASP is a document that gives the sequence of events for development of an area. A change in land use, he explained, usually requires an ASP but council can waive it if they feel an ASP doesn’t offer benefit.
Blades also stated an important part of the ASP process is the public hearing where those affected can speak publicly.
He stated to waive the ASP would require very solid support for a project. “There has to be full support within a community…it appears that full support isn’t present,” said Blades, referring to the numbers in Oliver’s letter. He stated it appears Oliver made a significant effort but everyone should have input before a waiver is granted. Blades stated that staff recommended turning down Oliver’s request for these reasons.
Reeve Kathy Rooyakkers clarified that if council agreed to waive the ASP, the public would have no input into the rezoning process other than Oliver’s efforts.
Councilors unanimously denied the request to waive the ASP.