By Erika Mathieu
Sunny South News
Lethbridge County council held a well-attended public hearing on Sept. 1 regarding Bylaw 22-012, which has been proposed to re-designate a portion of land in the Stafford Lake area from rural agriculture to rural recreation.
The proposed rezoning area would total an additional 83 acres zoned as recreation. Currently, there are 14 acres of zoned rural recreation in the Stafford Park area. The bylaw was read during the Aug. 4 meeting for the first time after an application was made for the expansion of the existing Stafford Park recreation area.
Supervisor of Planning and Development for the County, Hilary Janzen, said in her introductory statement, “the proposed re-designation would build on existing recreational development that could benefit tourism within the county and add to the county’s local economy,” a point worth considering as the County has limited opportunities for tourism and recreational developments.
However, Janzen also noted, “the proposed development has caused concerns concerning the adjacent residential developments,” including concerns for day users, increased traffic, dust control, noise, and alcohol consumption at the lake.
One of the applicants, Nelson Porter, spoke during the public hearing and stated he and his brother have made considerable financial and personal investments into the existing recreation site to improve the quality and amenities thus far. He said, “we work closely with SMRID to get approval and feedback,” and they run an invasive species program to deter unwanted pests from entering the reservoir. Porter also indicated their intentions to possibly move the entrance to the park from the north to the west side to help with dust and speeding and to mitigate issues with traffic.
In addition to the applicants, 10 residents were in attendance to voice their concerns and perspectives on the bylaw. One concerned resident, Dave Davies, said many residents oppose the proposed bylaw in its current iteration.
“There is widespread anger in the community about this, and it is not about the campground, it is about the infrastructure surrounding the community,” said Davies.“We are not opposed to development, we just are not accepting development at any cost.”
Davies continued to say some residents don’t feel they are being heard and proposed postponing second and third readings until administration could complete a more detailed report on the implications of future development and “what it would take to move this forward to something that is not detrimental to the residents.”
Davies claimed tax revenue from the residential subdivision totalled over $70,000 and “the park is $1,841.26. Should somebody who is not paying much tax benefit on the backs of everybody else? I don’t know.”
The majority in attendance who spoke expressed they were not opposing the campground itself but rather the further strain on road infrastructure in the surrounding area. One resident said, “the road has not kept up,” with the level of traffic in the area since the campground re-opened in 2016.
Early on in the council meeting, Janzen suggested that consideration for buffers, improved access, and traffic mitigation efforts could ease some of the concerns of residents.
Coun. John Kuerbis pointed out that concerns with road infrastructure are outside the purview of the applicants and the issue at hand is a zoning/land designation application.
“This is really just a preliminary step in order for them to start moving forward with development in the sense that this is a rezoning situation that would allow them to take the next steps to look at doing any proposed expansions.”
Bylaw 22-012 carried second reading. Following this, council voted in favour of a separate motion to postpone the third reading of the bylaw until more information can be provided at the upcoming Sept. 15 council meeting.