County of Wetaskiwin takes first step in road closure

County of Wetaskiwin takes first step in road closure

Landowners request closure and sale of undeveloped road allowance

County of Wetaskiwin council approved by a 5 to 1 vote a request to close and sell a portion of an undeveloped road allowance during their Planning and Development council meeting Nov. 8.

The request, from Gian and Tress Gibson, was described in an agenda memo presented to council by staff.

“At the July 7, 2015 meeting, Council discussed a request received from Gian & Tress Gibson for Council to close and sell an undeveloped road allowance adjacent to the west boundary of their property described as SW 36-46-23-W4M located on the east side Coal Lake,” stated the memo.

“Comments from Administration in respect of the matter when it was presented in 2015 included: Public Works would not support sale of road allowance, would support closure and lease. The Right-Of-Way (ROW) parallels crown property that has potential for future recreational development.

“Planning & Economic Development No objection leasing the undeveloped portion of road subject to the other adjacent landowners having no objection and if no trees or brush be removed from the portion of road allowance.”

Staff explained this isn’t the first time the Gibsons made this request.

“During the July 7, 2015 meeting, Council denied the request for closure and sale, but offered Mr. & Mrs. Gibson the opportunity to close and lease the undeveloped road allowance,” stated the staff memo.

“On October 1, 2019, correspondence was received from Tress & Gian Gibson requesting that the County reconsider the decision from July 7, 2015 to deny the closure and sale of a portion of the undeveloped road allowance on Range Road 231 and for them and their representative, Mr. Robert Riddett to speak on behalf of the request as a delegation at the November 8, 2019 Council for Planning & Economic Development meeting.

“In respect of the correspondence, Administration notes that Mr. & Mrs. Gibson requested that the County start the legal process of closing the area shown on the provided Diagram 2, on the understanding that, once closed, the land will be consolidated into the Gibson property in exactly the same way as was done on the quarter to the north.

Additionally, Administration investigated the closure and consolidation of Range Road 231 to the north of the Gibson property, which occurred in 1991. Administration notes that as contained within the Land Acquisition Agreement, the County agreed to trade a portion of Range Road 231 in order to purchase right-of-way for Highway 822.”

It was noted that the Gibsons have private buildings that encroach on public property.

“Furthermore, Administration notes that the request could be interpreted to be an attempt to mitigate encroachment issues that Mr. & Mrs. Gibson have caused upon the County Road Allowance through the building of developments either on or too close to the Road Allowance without undertaking proper surveying and other assurance measures prior to construction, making this a potential situation of asking for concessions and allowances after the fact regarding the Road Allowance,” stated the staff memo.

“Council will have to decide if they are willing to set a precedence by closing and selling this road to Mr. & Mrs. Gibson in order to deal with the encroachments onto the Road Allowance through the placement of a garage and the subsequent building of a house, which commenced after the previous decision of Council in 2015.

“Finally, the road allowance near Coal Lake is deemed to be Type 1 Soil. The area involved if sold is 1.1 acres and the value of the aforementioned land would be $2,420. Access to the adjoining Crown Land is available by way of Highway 822 and Road Plan 594J.”

Councilors eventually voted 5 to 1 in favour of granting the Gibson’s request, rescinding the previous resolution and moving forward with road closure, but with a number of conditions: That Mr. & Mrs. Gibson provide written confirmation that they will accept responsibility for all costs associated with the road closure including advertising of the Public Hearing; Title searches required for notification of referral agencies; Survey costs, if applicable; Land Title Registration Fees, if applicable; and All other charges relating to the closure of road allowances, Approval of the Minister of Transportation; No objection being received from any person who would be prejudicially affected by the proposed road closure; and Provision of a correct and acceptable description of the closure area from an Alberta Land Surveyor, if required.