Owners of Stafford Lake Park want to re-designate land-use
By Stan Ashbee
Sunny South News
KD Water Inc. and 1911371 Alberta Ltd. submitted an application to Lethbridge County to amend Land-Use Bylaw 1404. The purpose of the amendment, a report submitted to county council stated, is to re-designate portions of NE and NW 12-9-19-W4 from Rural Agriculture (RA) to Rural Recreational (RR).
First reading, according to the report, was passed Apr. 7 by council. The proposed re-designation is located along the west side of Stafford Lake, south of the Doram Heights (Stafford) subdivision.
It was stated in the report, the landowner’s intent is to re-designate the subject lands to allow for a recreational vehicle park/campground, which is currently not a use permitted or discretionary under the RA district.
The area, the report stated, was previously the area of the Stafford Lake Park, which was operational from 1985 to 2010. The park was completely closed until last summer (2015), when the boat launch area was re-opened to the public.
Prior to a development permit being issued by the county, the applicant is required to re-designate the property because its prior use was discontinued for a period of six consecutive months.
If a property’s use has been discontinued, the Municipal Government Act (MGA) requires future use of the land or buildings must conform to the county’s land-use bylaw currently in effect.
A public hearing was held May 19, in regards to the application. Letters were received by the county about concerns with the bylaw amendment. Over 15 county residents attended the public hearing and a few voiced concerns, which included: increased maintenance cost and dust created by increased use; fire access and emergency services; environmental concerns; ensuring the RV park is well-maintained and managed (such as limiting the number of RV units allowed and controlling rowdy campers); and management of the water and sewer systems.
Prior to the public hearing, Kim Hranac, one of the landowners and involved with the operations of Stafford Lake Park, discussed the application and the general concerns with council and those in attendance for the public hearing, in regards to rezoning. Hranac started her presentation by elaborating on the steps taken to move the application forward.
“We view this re-designation as a means to bring the existing land use into compliance of the county’s bylaws and to recognize this long standing park operation is highly compatible with residential and agricultural uses, as seen in other recreational areas in the county,” she noted.
Hranac said Stafford Park reopened for day use in 2015 with the intent of moving forward with overnight RV parking and some kind of home development, possibly in the near future.
“This new group of owners is diligent, organized, professional and accountable. We demonstrate respect for the land and the surrounding community. We’re committed to the safe, orderly and economic operation of Stafford Lake Park,” she said.
She also discussed a few key issues related to the rezoning application including the notion about 40-50 vehicles travel on the road to Stafford Lake a day, so according to this, increased traffic could be acceptable.
She also noted dust control measures have been put into place for this summer. Speed limits can also be monitored and addressed accordingly if need be and RCMP can be utilized if need be for any concerns or issues deemed criminal in nature.
According to the report, a permit may contain conditions that ensure the proper management of the park and mitigate the concerns of residents, as well as, there are provincial regulations and acts that have to be adhered to.
The Stafford reservoir and surrounding area provides a unique opportunity in the county, the report stated, to allow recreational uses along a water body and would provide economic benefit to the region. The report also stated the proposed re-designation is appropriate for the area, given it was intended for a recreational area when created in 1985.
Council passed the motion to proceed with second and third reading of Bylaw 1463.
Coun. John Willms opposed the motion to proceed with both second and third reading of the bylaw.
“I can understand why there’s a demand for a use of that lake. It’s a nice lake and I think it would be good for the public to be able to use that lake. The problem is, what has happened in the past,” Willms said. But, he added, he can appreciate what the new owners and operators are wanting to do differently.
“I am still concerned. A lot of these boat launch situations are off of pavement. We’ve got over a kilometre of gravel there. We’re not only talking about the residents but there’s some quality farmland right next door,” he said, noting he has learned dust may alter the quality of crops.
Another aspect he is concerned with is the amount of traffic that may travel the gravel road.
“Maybe 20 per cent is county, the rest would be city, Taber, from all over the place,” he said. The problem is the roads, the dust and there’s the respect aspect, Willms said.
“That’s why I have not been supportive of this. I feel I would like to see something done to the whole road but the plans, as they are, the county certainly can’t afford it or do any dust suppression on it,” Willms added.