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Buffalo Lake Bar W Resort takes another step forward

LPRT releases decision on appeals
The proposed Bar W Resort RV park would include 318 sites on the south side of Buffalo Lake. (Image contributed)

A proposed development on the southern shores of Buffalo Lake has taken another step forward, following a decision by the Land & Property Rights Tribunal (LPRT).

Two appellants put forward an appeal to the LPRT regarding development permits issued by the County of Stettler to the developers of the Bar W RV Resort, a proposed 300-plus unit RV development located in between the summer villages of White Sands and Rochon Sands.

The County of Stettler approved the development permit in 2023 with several variances and conditions attached. Variances include the requirement of a storage area for boats, the property’s main entrance must be widened to 10 metres, only one RV, not to exceed 5.5 metres, and other variances and conditions were approved by the county as the development authority.

Appeals were filed on four separate grounds by the two appellants.

First, the existing boat launches in the area were not adequate for the proposed development.

While there is no proposed boat launch within the footprint of the resort, the appellants argue that the increase in people is going to increase lake usage. The county’s response is that the “most appropriate” solution is to expand the White Sands boat launch, though “details remain to be worked out.”

It is anticipated that Bar W will contribute towards improving the boat launch.

According to the Bar W developer, only 20 per cent of potential RV park users plan to use boats on the lake.

While no concrete plans were made, the LPRT found that the developer’s agreement to contribute to planned upgrades at the White Sands boat launch was sufficient to address the concerns of the applicant.

The second issue raised by the appellants was that of visual impact; they raised concerns that the heights of the RVs being allowed would not “preserve” the “character” of the lake.

According to the County of Stettler’s response to the LPRT, height is addressed in the fifth and ninth conditions of the development permit. An RV is to be limited to 5.5 metres maximum, and there is to be no development within five metres of the top of the “north-facing escarpment” on the property, or 2.5 metres of the northeast and east escarpments.

The LPRT found that the height restrictions suitably addressed the visual impacts of the development.

A third issue raised by the appellants was that of access points.

The county, as development authority, approved the construction of three access roads for the development, all on Bayview Road and two of which would be gated for emergency access only.

According to the appellant, having three accesses off the one road violates a policy directing the use of the area, which states that the property will only have one access.

The LPRT found that with traffic being diverted to the main entrance and having the two secondary entrances gated and locked for emergency service use only did not violate the policy.

A fourth issue before the LPRT by the appellants was traffic control on Bayview Street and surrounding highways and roads. The issue is that Bayview is designed as a “local street” to support 100 properties, and an additional 300-plus will overtax it.

The appellants noted that an Alberta Transportation and Economic Corridors statement from 2005 and 2018 indicated that the surrounding highways and township roads would need improvements before future development could occur and that the developer’s required contribution to these upgrades, which is not specified, is not “sufficiently precise.”

On the fourth issue, the LPRT found partially with the appellant. Requirements added to the permit by the LPRT include the requirement of the development to enter a Road Use Agreement with the County, agree to contribute to “costs of future roadwork,” enter and implement a development agreement with the county for road improvements at Highway 835 and Township 40-2, and others prior to site occupancy.

The LPRT heard the appeal instead of the county’s subdivision and development appeal board, as the development was under the regulatory purview of the Environmental Protection and Enhancement Act. The decision was released Jan. 29, 2024.

Kevin Sabo

About the Author: Kevin Sabo

I’m Kevin Sabo. I’ve been a resident of the Castor area for the last 12 years and counting, first coming out here in my previous career as an EMT.
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