On April 21, 2017, County of Wetaskiwin councillors held a public forum in Mulhurst Bay to listen to public concern over the RV land use bylaw. File photo

Wetaskiwin county defers land use bylaw decision

Tempers remain high over RV controversy

Decisions regarding proposed changes and updates to the County of Wetaskiwin’s land use bylaw were deferred until a November planning and economic development meeting.

Council’s decision came following a lengthy public hearing on Oct. 12. Several councillors felt not enough changes where discussed during the public hearing to give them the comfort to pass three readings that day.

The Oct. 16 election also posed some challenges. To move forward with the first reading on Oct. 12 would have taken away any potential new councillors’ ability to have a say in the second and third readings, as they would not have been present for the public hearing. Coun. Keith Johnson was also not present for the hearing and Coun. Larry McKeever was not seeking re-election.

Process states a the majority of councillors who were present for the public hearing must also be present for subsequent readings to pass the bylaw.

While many proposed changes to the land use bylaw were up for discussion during the public hearing the majority of the gallery in attendance was there to speak to the county’s recreational vehicle (RV) land use bylaw.

A public forum was held April 21, 2017, for members of the public to address county council and provide possible solutions they believed would help the alleviated the RV issue in the county. On June 8, 2015 councillors decided no changes would the made to the RV policies put in place in 2015. While discussing proposed amendments to the land use bylaw on Sept. 14, 2017, councillors decided to hold to that course of action.

Members of the public on both sides of the issue remain unsatisfied with how council has handled the situation.

David Blades, director and planning and economic development, says the county’s land use bylaw accommodates the use of RVs in some form in almost every land use district.

An RV policy for unit use during special events such as family reunions has not been drafted yet but is is a priority for the county’s future.

Concerns and anger voiced during the public hearing were similar to what councillors heard during the public forum last spring.

Public opinions were voiced over: the lack of RV policy training provided to frontline county staff, the money that will be lost by people who developed RV lots but do not want to or cannot afford to build permanent residences, council’s direction of a bylaw being opposed by so many members of the public, council’s actions limiting the population of recreational communities during economic downturn, the displeasure of the complaint based enforcement model, the deaf ear council is turning to peoples’ concerns, the confusion created by previous county land use bylaws, lots owner and buyers who did not read the bylaws before purchasing property, and the public desire for a grandfather clause — which is not being approved by council.

Prior to 2015 RV use was not included in any land use bylaw, which automatically means they are not a permitted use. “You cannot grandfather something that was never allowed,” said Coun. Lyle Seely.

“I don’t think this council or this county is anti-RV,” said Seely.

Reeve Kathy Rooyakkers says the solution people wishing to use RVs on country residential land can look at is rezoning.

While spot rezoning is not what council has in mind groups of lot owners within subdivisions who all agree they can live in or near RVs can apply to have that larger section rezoned.

One member of the public stepped forward to inquire if RVs could be used when a landowner is staying on-site to check the security of their property.

Assistant CAO Rod Hawken says if in a district that supports RV use a landowner can submit an application for short-term camping. However, that is not applicable if the district does not allow RVs, such as urban commercial.

amelia.naismith@pipestoneflyer.ca

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