A man representing a family of property owners in the County of Wetaskiwin had an unusual request for councilors Feb. 11: public purchase of the family’s property to protect the land for future generations.
Eric Oddson appeared before council to discuss his family’s property located at NW 25-47-1-W5M, on the north side of Pigeon Lake. Oddson said he had been named executor of his mother’s estate and spoke on behalf of his family. He said his mother passed away in 2013.
In his report to council, CAO Rod Hawken stated, “Mr. Oddson is offering the land to the County of Wetaskiwin for sale and would require compensation to recover the capital gains evaluation at the time of the Estate’s final tax return. He is offering to sell the quarter for $325,000 plus any equity gain. The County of Wetaskiwin’s 2017 tax assessment for this property was $417,580.”
Oddson told councilors the family felt compelled to sell the property which is located in the watershed area, and have contacted various groups and agencies such as the Nature Conservancy of Canada, Alberta Fish and Game Association, Edmonton & Area Land Trust as well as Ducks Unlimited; all of them turned him down for various reasons.
Oddson asked councilors to consider purchasing the property in question and using it for a park, for example. He said the Oddson family always intended for this parcel close to Mulhurst Bay to be kept in its natural state but are getting older and managing the property in question is getting onerous.
He said his family feels climate change is an important issue and keeping natural environments such as found on the parcel in question is important to current and future generations.
In his report Hawken went on to state, “The land is currently zoned Agricultural and is 161 acres in Division 5 is fully treed. The biodiversity of this property is that it remains in its natural state with untouched boreal forest and wildlife in a natural environment. If the County of Wetaskiwin agreed to purchase the NW 25-47-1-W5M it would fall in line with the provincial government’s push for rural recreational programs and available land for a mix of parks and public lands to preserve natural landscapes while supporting a wide range of world-class tourism and recreation opportunities. The land could also be used for future recreational trails and activities while keeping in line with the direction of Council within the Trails Master Plan under the direction of the Leisure & Community Services Department.”
Councilor Lyle Seely asked if the property was a full quarter section, and Oddson answered yes. Oddson noted no alterations have been made to the property other than a small cabin and noted the terrain included trees, ravines and valleys.
Councilor Kathy Rooyakkers stated the purchase would have to be made with taxpayer dollars and while there are several ideas for new parks in the county, the municipality can’t afford them. “That’s a lot of money to ask taxpayers to pay for one quarter,” said Rooyakkers.
Councilors decided to accept Oddson’s request as information only.