Reader claims water body study ‘biased’

Letter writer not happy about proposal on setbacks near local lakes.

Attention all land owners in the County of Wetaskiwin. Let it be known that the Wetaskiwin County council made a motion at their last meeting (November 12) to amend their Municipal Development Plan (MDP) regarding the location of new confined feeding operations (CFO).

There was a request to council (May 7 meeting) to relax the bylaw restricting “setback from lakes” for locating a new CFO. The current applicable bylaw (1.4.3b) states”….1.6 km. (1 mile) from Lakes in the County”. This setback allows an environmental barrier to protect surface water from contamination. But the motion made at the November 12 council meeting entertains the request to amend the MDP bylaw, possibly reducing the “setback from lake” restrictions to only 30 meters rather than the 1.6 km or one mile restriction.

An alternate proposal suggested from council at the May 7 meeting, was that this party contact the federal government to have the lake decommissioned. This suggests that if the lake status is reduced to wetland status, this could negate the county’s restricting bylaw because the term “wetland” is not stated in the current MDP bylaws.

We are concerned. The County of Wetaskiwin declared this past summer an “agricultural disaster due to drought”. Yet the county administration now appears to be applauding a biased “water body assessment study” completed this past August. If an environmental consultant is contracted to declassify a 38 hectare (94 acre) lake to wetland status, he can and will do it, by basing his study on only a portion of the lake, using the historical data that supports his slant and disregarding pertinent lake/wetland policy.

As information, our lake is a naturally occurring body of water which is considerably smaller in size than Pigeon Lake or Wizard Lake but it is classified as “lake” on our land title certificate and is on crown land. The name of our lake (like many other lakes within the county) is not registered in the Canadian Geographical Names Data Base (CGNDB), not because it does not qualify, but because it has not yet been registered.

Do not be fooled. Yes, this public hearing will be for amending the bylaw which restricts locating a new CFO within a mile from any lake. But the results of this decision could open the door for any or all future developments close to water bodies. This will set precedence if the county disregards the existing municipal bylaws, the factual physical evidence, and the scientific research which we have presented, in order to appease one landowner.

As a taxpayer, we must take notice and question the County of Wetaskiwin proposed amendments to bylaws. It is only effective if we oppose a proposed amendment before it is passed because complaining, after the fact, is futile.

We need the support of other landowners at this time. For more information, I can be contacted at cathy.minchau@gmail.com.

Cathy Minchau

R.R. 2, Millet