By Erika Mathieu
Sunny South News
Lethbridge County council has passed a contentious bylaw which will re-designate a portion of land near Stafford Lake Campground (NE/NW 12-919-W4) from Rural Agriculture to Rural Recreation.
Two weeks after a well-attended public hearing was held on Sept. 1, the third reading of the bylaw was passed in a 5-2 vote on Sept. 15.
Following the public hearing, which heard several county residents air their grievances on a number of issues, both related and tangential, to the issue at hand, council opted to table consideration of third reading of Bylaw 22-012 until the next regular council meeting.
Council directed administration to prepare additional information for the Sept. 15 meeting, including a cost estimate to upgrade surrounding road infrastructure. Supervisor of Planning and Development for the County, Hillary Janzen, told council, “the cost associated with upgrading Township Road (would be) approximately $1.7 million in pavement and $800,000 cement base stabilization,” and would include the section of road from HWY 512 to Stafford Lake Campground.
The rezoning process was initiated after the owners of Stafford Lake Resort have indicated a desire to possibly expand amenities at the site which would not be in allowed under the current land designation. While the reservoir provides rare recreational opportunities in the country, some residents were concerned about future developments and how issues like road infrastructure, noise, traffic, and dust control would impact residential developments adjacent to the recreation site.
County Reeve Tory Campbell opposed the motion to carry third reading of the bylaw. Campbell represents Division 2, where Stafford Lake is located. “If I step back and look at this from a value proposal, and the value that it brings to Lethbridge County, I don’t believe that outweighs the potential detriment to that approved residential development,” stated Campbell.
Coun. Lorne Hickey representing Division 1, also voted against the motion.
Without specifically referencing any speakers of the hearing directly, Campbell also added, “I do question some motivations, some of the languages used I found quite distasteful to be quite honest.” CAO Ann Mitchell agreed council was facing a “tough decision” but spoke in support of Reeve Campbell’s concern with how some grievances had been communicated during the public process.
“We are public figures but we should have it in a civil discourse,” adding, “I think that’s very much missing from today’s society.”
The passing of Bylaw 22-012 is strictly related to the rezoning of the land in question from Rural Agriculture to Rural Recreation. Any potential future proposals to expand or develop the land would be subject to the existing development permit application process.