Unpermitted motocross track denied land rezoning

A County of Wetaskiwn couple who developed an unauthorized motocross track on their land applied to have the land rezoned...

A County of Wetaskiwn couple who developed an unauthorized motocross track on their land applied to have the land rezoned from agriculture to recreational after neighbouring landowners began complaining about the track. Wetaskiwin county council denied the request at its April 14 meeting.

The land included in the request was approximately 78 acres and is classified at 40 per cent soil quality. In the County of Wetaskiwin 30 per cent is considered good agricultural land.

Assistant CAO Rod Hawken says a key part of council’s decision is taking into account the impact the track would have on surrounding agricultural operations.

Nearby landowners attended the public hearing with only applicants Andrew and Erika Branco and Andrew’s father, City of Wetaskiwin councillor Joe Branco, speaking in favour of the endeavour.

Andrew told council he and his wife bought the ag land several years ago with the sole intention of developing the track. He says there is no place in the county for motocross enthusiasts to ride. “We feel like we’re the black sheep in the community.”

Neighbouring landowner Tully Johnson, who runs a cow/calf operation, is concerned how the increased noise and activity of the motocross track is affecting his livestock.

“It’s agricultural land and it better stay that way. It should have never come to this point,” said Johnson. He was not the only one concerned for their livestock.

Kari Albers also owns a cow/calf operation and says the noise has her livestock pushing through fences to get away from the machines. In the past Albers says her family has been able to move among their cattle using quads but now they are so afraid of the vehicles it takes months to retrain them.

Branco Sr. said ATVs are common in the County of Wetaskiwin. “If it does not get passed to recreational my grandsons and granddaughters are still entitled to use that land to ride their quads or their dirt bikes. There’s a lot of farmers here who have quads, their grandkids have quads,” said Joe Branco.

“There has to be a lot of respect here. The recreation and the quality of life for the young generation to come has to be thought of,” he added.

Albers says with the negative effects the track has on her cattle, her children are losing their futures, livelihood and passions. “My eight year old daughter is in our cows every day with us. This is what she looks to spending the rest of her life doing.” Albers added if her cattle cannot safely use their summer pasture there is a chance she and her family will have to move.

Coun. Larry McKeever asked Andrew how many nights a week he was holding races on his track one night per week last year. He also told council he is charging people to come and ride in the races.

“Why did you not look for recreational if that was your intent?” Reeve Kathy Rooyakkers asked.

Many of the landowners said they would not have a problem if the family was just using the track for themselves but with people being invited in they are concerned.

Andrew admitted to council he did nothing in the past by way of holding a community meeting to let his neighbours know of his plans. Rooyakkers told him that would have been a good place to start.

“You’ve already created a track and now you’re asking permission?” James Olson questioned.

Council agreed even with the land not being rezoned the Branco’s should already have gone through the motions for development permits.

“I’m a supporter of the vehicles. I cannot support his location through,” said McKeever.

 

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

(Photo Submitted by the Gord Bamford Foundation)
Lacombe’s Gord Bamford to perform a virtual concert for a good cause

The concert aims to raise awareness for Operation Santa Clause

Alberta Health Services' central zone jumped from 162 active COVID-19 cases to 178 on Friday. Five additional deaths were reported provincewide, bringing the toll to 323. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Graham Hughes
622 new COVID-19 cases set another daily high Friday

Province confirmed 622 additional cases Friday

City of Wetaskiwin Mayor presenting the AUMA Above & Beyond Award to John Maude and Susan Quinn. Ren Goode/ City of Wetaskiwin.
Wetaskiwin County residents win the AUMA Above & Beyond Award

John Maude and Susan Quinn are being recognized for their role in Wetaskiwin’s sustainability.

Alberta children whose only symptom of COVID-19 is a runny nose or a sore throat will no longer require mandatory isolation, starting Monday.
477 new COVID-19 cases confirmed in Alberta on Thursday

Changes being made to the COVID-19 symptom list for school-age children

There were 410 COVID-19 cases recorded in Alberta Wednesday. (File photo)
Alberta records 410 COVID-19 cases Wednesday

Central zone dropped to 160 active cases

Over the years, Janice Blackie-Goodine’s home in Summerland has featured elaborate Halloween displays and decorations each October. (File photo)
QUIZ: How much do you really know about Halloween?

Oct. 31 is a night of frights. How much do you know about Halloween customs and traditions?

(Photo submitted)
Rimbey resident avid author despite Parkinson’s

Wins more accolades for her writing

(Photo Submitted by the Gord Bamford Foundation)
Lacombe’s Gord Bamford to perform a virtual concert for a good cause

The concert aims to raise awareness for Operation Santa Clause

Conservative leader Erin O’Toole rises during Question Period in the House of Commons in Ottawa on Wednesday October 28, 2020. (Adrian Wyld/The Canadian Press)
Conversion therapy ban gets approval in principle, exposes Conservative divisions

Erin O’Toole himself voted in favour of the bill, as did most Conservative MPs

Pilots Ilona Carter and Jim Gray of iRecover Treatment Centres, in front of his company’s aircraft, based at Ponoka’s airport. (Perry Wilson/Submitted)
95-year-old Ilona Carter flies again

Takes to the skies over Ponoka

Children’s backpacks and shoes are seen at a daycare in Langley, B.C., on Tuesday May 29, 2018. Alberta Children’s Services Minister Rebecca Schulz says the province plans to bring in a new way of licensing and monitoring child-care facilities. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
Alberta proposes legislation to change rules on child-care spaces

Record-keeping, traditionally done on paper, would be allowed digitally

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau shakes hands with US Vice-President Joe Biden on Parliament Hill in Ottawa on Friday, December 9, 2016. THE CANADIAN PRESS/ Patrick Doyle
A Biden presidency could mean good news for Canadian environment policy: observers

Experts and observers say even a U.S. outside the Paris agreement may ultimately end up in the same place

People take a photo together during the opening night of Christmas Lights Across Canada, in Ottawa, on Wednesday, Dec. 4, 2019. The likelihood that most Canadians will enjoy a holly jolly Christmas season of gatherings, caroling and travel is unlikely, say public health experts who encourage those who revel in holiday traditions to accept more sacrifices ahead. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Justin Tang
Ho, ho, no: Experts advise preparing for a scaled-back COVID holiday season

Many of the holiday season’s highlights have already been scrapped or are unlikely to take place

Sen. Kim Pate is shown in Toronto in an October 15, 2013, file photo. The parliamentary budget office says a proposed law that would give judges discretion on whether to apply a lesser sentence for murder could save the federal government $8.3 million per year. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Colin Perkel
Judicial discretion for mandatory minimum sentences for murder would save $8.3M: PBO

The result would be fewer people in long-term custody at federal correctional institutions, experts say

Most Read