The issue of the recreational vehicle land use bylaw has a long and contentious history in the County of Wetaskiwin. While council did discuss recommendations to move forward with the matter — following the April 21, 2017, open house — during its May 11 planning and economic development meeting the discussion was tabled until the June 8 meeting.
Tabeling the matter gives councillors the opportunity to review a legal opinion presented to council before the 2013 municipal elections, when not all current councillors sat in their elected positions.
“We really don’t want to rush this through just to get a settlement,” said Coun. Keith Johnson.
“We really do have to take our time. We’re never going to get it all right. We’re never going to make everyone happy and compliant,” said Coun. Terry Van de Kraats.
One of the biggest concerns the public voiced during the open house is the lack of enforcement of the bylaw by the county, historically.
“I feel we have dropped the ball in enforcement of our bylaws, and that’s totally (on) us,” said Johnson. “We’re going to have to find some way of enforcing what we bring into a bylaw.”
Councillor Garry Dearing says enforcing every point on every bylaw in a municipality is too expensive.
“No municipality enforces everything. We’re not any different than any other municipality as far as enforcement,” he added.
Currently the bylaw is complaint driven. Reeve Kathy Rooyakkers does not want the bylaw to become proactive only. She says it is too heavy-handed and expensive. “I don’t think the ratepayers would be happy either because that would be a lot of bucks.”
Van de Kraats had concerns with a solely complaint-driven model. “Nobody wants that in a community.”
Another issue causing differing opinions among the councillors is how to move forward with RVs on country residential-zoned lots.
“People want to use their recreational vehicles at the lake,” said Rooyakkers. She added she would like to see those living in country residential given the opportunity to apply for RV usage permits.
Coun. Larry McKeever says that would not be fair to those already living in country residential with the understanding they would be residing next to homes similar to their own, not in a mixed-use subdivision. “What are we saying to people who followed the rules for all those years?”
Rooyakkers asked if there was a possibility of investigating the implementation of lake districts around Pigeon Lake in the future.
Lake districts would require rezoning and public hearings, says assistant CAO Rod Hawken. Some people will not want to change their zoning. “It would be a large process,” said Hawken.
“In an ideal world there would be a development that allows for RVs,” said Van de Kraats.
Coun. Lyle Seely said no matter what decision council makes not everyone will be happy. “We can take the bullet today or we can take the bullet another day.”
The idea of grandfathering was mentioned during the open house and seemed to be popular among the RV users.
Hawken says there is a risk with grandfathering, as it condones non-confirming uses as legal in the county. “The passage of time does not make non-confirming uses conforming.”
County council will pick up its discussion at its June 8 planning and development meeting at 11 a.m. in council chambers. The meeting is open to the public.