A request from a subdivision community to have municipal land re-cast as a public park was turned down by County of Wetaskiwin council Oct. 8.
The issue was presented to council by Assistant CAO Jeff Chipley.
Chipley noted earlier this year the county became aware of unpermitted structures, including bridges, that had been placed in the Bayview community, some of them touching upon environmental reserve, or ER, which isn’t supposed to have structures on it.
Chipley’s report stated, “As a result of this direction by Council, Administration sent an Informational Notice to the residents of the Bayview Estates Subdivision on July 24, 2019. Furthermore, enforcement action was also undertaken by the County during the months of July and August where items and structures were removed from the Environmental Reserve and a violation ticket was issued.
“After the Informational Notice and enforcement action occurred, the County of Wetaskiwin received numerous correspondence from citizens within the Bayview Estates Subdivision with similar concerns and requests to be considered by Council.”
The residents apparently asked if council was willing to listen to their proposal, and Chipley noted the resident could send their request to council.
“First, the County received correspondence from Mr. & Mrs. Allan & Diana Wongstedt requesting that the Environmental Reserve be designated as a public beach for the families and friends of five landowners in the Bayview Estates Subdivision, along with the general public,” stated Chipley’s report.
“Secondly, the County received correspondence from Mr. & Mrs. John & Katherine Chrunik dated August 14, 2019 proposing that a part of the Environmental Reserve be grandfathered as a community area in its cleared and manicured state as it has been for thirty-two (32) years.
“Additionally, the County received Ms. Susan Boyle on behalf of Ms. Margaret E. Miller further requesting that the Environmental Reserve be designated as a public park in its cleared and manicured state as it has for over thirty-five (35) years by allowing the residents to keep the land in this state as they have.
“Furthermore, the County received correspondence from Mr. & Mrs. Rudy & Beverly Terletski with the same requests as the previous correspondences mentioned from other citizens.
“Further correspondence was received from Ms. Joyce Hendrickson, who provided similar concerns and requests, as well as stating that not maintaining the Environmental Reserve would cause health concerns.
“Lastly, correspondence was received from Mr. Daniel Mantey regarding concerns as to the process for enforcement of the Environmental Reserve as directed by Council as his family experienced over the first couple of months in the County of Wetaskiwin,” stated Chipley’s report.
Chipley stated staff researched the idea of converting ER into public park; neighbouring municipalities apparently don’t do it, but it appeared that if it was done, it would include a fairly complicated process.
Councilor Lyle Seely stated that the idea is substantial ins cope, and if a public area is approved, it would be for everyone, not just Bayview residents, unless the Bayview people pay for everything.
Councilor Josh Bishop agreed with Seely, noting the county shouldn’t be paying for this.
Councilors eventually defeated the request unanimously, noting the following reasons: There is currently no public parking available onsite; The Municipal Government Act does not make provisions for developed parks within Environmental Reserves; The allocation of a park will set precedence for all County Environmental Reserves; and That Council is dedicated to protecting sensitive environmental areas within the County.