County residents dealing with public property-driveway issue

County residents dealing with public property-driveway issue

Turns out driveway has been on County of Wetaskiwin property for decades

A County of Wetaskiwin couple is dealing with a property line issue that came out of left field.

During the Planning and Development Meeting Aug. 14, councilors heard a report from development officer Jarvis Grant about a problem with Gordon and Marj Loov’s driveway located at NW 32-45-25-W4M, P.7722461 B.2 L.2.

It should be noted that, before discussion began, councilor Dale Woitt notified those present that Marj Loov is his sister.

“On May 20, 2016, County Administration became aware through the installation of a neighbouring rural address sign that the primary access point or driveway into Plan 7722461, Block 2, Lot 2, owned by Gordon and Marjorie Loov, was directly onto a County Environmental Reserve,” stated Grant’s report to council.

“The Reserve land is described by the short legal description of Plan 7722461, Block 2, Lot R4. Subject to (Municipal Government Act) section 676(1), environmental reserve must be left in its natural state or be used as a public park.”

Grant said that county staff, while placing a road sign, noticed the property lines didn’t line up. Grant said county administration met with the Loov family and discussed options. He said it seemed purchase of the ER in question by the Loov family was the preferred option.

Marj told councilors she and her husband purchased the property in 1984 and were never aware their driveway encroached on public property. She said options like moving the driveway aren’t feasible because of a power pole. Marj noted moving the driveway would have a starting price tag of $5,000 to $6,000 plus legal costs, application fees and inspections.

She said the problem is extremely frustrating, as the Loovs didn’t do anything wrong but now have to solve this problem. “How would any of you feel after 33 and a half years, you’re expected to pay that kind of money?” she asked.

Reeve Kathy Rooyakkers noted the county had to deal with a similar situation in the Buck Lake area.

Grant said, price-wise, if the Loov’s bought the ER from the County of Wetaskiwin, surveying costs alone could range from $4,300 up to $11,000.

Councilor Lyle Seely asked that if the Loovs did purchase and close this ER, does the public still have access to nearby public land, to which Grant responded yes, there is other access the public could use.

Councilor Woitt asked why the fees were so expensive, when there would be no work done on an existing property. “It’s an existing property,” said Woitt.

Seely responded it’s important that anyone who buys property get a “real property report” to avoid these kinds of situations. Seely stated some fees could be waived by the county, but some costs of the land purchase have to be borne by the Loov family.

Councilor Terry Van de Kraats agreed, noting the county should find the most inexpensive way possible to sell the ER to the Loov family, but there’s no reason county taxpayers should pay for this.

Director of Planning and Development David Blades stated the process of selling ER involves certain costs, including surveying.

Van de Kraats asked if county staff could develop a proposal for the most inexpensive way possible to sell the ER to the Loov family. Assistant CAO Jeff Chipley stated the county staff can work with the Loovs to bring a proposal back to council at a future meeting.