Rimbey council angers residents with vagueness

“As to what’s going on that property I don’t know. I don’t know what the sellers are going to do with it.” Rick Pankiw, Rimbey Mayor

Following a public March 24 hearing filled with unhappy residents, the proposed rezoned land request for a parcel south Rimbey’s Best Western hotel was given second reading that same evening by Rimbey town council

Although many parcels of land were included in the bylaw, only the southernmost parcel, running south of Rimstone Ridge and along 45th Avenue is being rezoned from R1 low density housing to IPU (Institutional Public Use).

Although it wasn’t stated at the meeting what the rezoned land would be used for, many residents believed it would house the proposed seniors’ lodge. “It could be a school, it could church, it could be a seniors’ complex, the developer asked for it to be rezoned,” said mayor Rick Pankiw, listing the general uses of IPU land.

“I’m wanting to know what in the future development plan this area being rezoned for. I’m concerned about what type of building or project is going to go up there,” said Jan Boyarzin, 45 Avenue resident.

She feels 45 Avenue isn’t in good shape and is concerned how increased traffic would further degrade the road. “If there’s a large project there, it’s not like building a house, there’s going to be a lot of noise, there’s a lot of children and little kids on that road.”

Other concerns voiced at the meeting included whether the parcel would be a good place for the seniors’ lodge, as they would have to cross Highway 53 for many amenities; drainage issues of the land; and whether they felt that location was appropriate for IPU.

Jim Moore asked council if they knew what the rezoned IPU land would be for, specifically mentioning the seniors’ housing development. “Do you know what the intent of the developer is here?”

“Anything that happens with negotiations for that are protected by the MGA (Municipal Government Act) and we are not at liberty to speak about that, the developer and or the buyer is. It’s against the law for us to speak out at this time,” said Pankiw.

“As to what’s going on that property I don’t know. I don’t know what the sellers are going to do with it,” he added.

However, County CAO Charlie Cutforth has a different version. He says there have been discussions between the town and the county and the town “absolutely” knew. “Once the agreement is signed, hey it’s public.”

“Why wouldn’t they let the people know? And the town has known right from day one. There’s no secret about it,” he added.

Cutforth confirmed on March 25 that the southern parcel is land the county purchased on Feb. 27, costing $310,000, for the seniors’ lodge. “I did know they had to get it rezoned.”

Stan Cummings, owner and developer who sold the land in negotiations to Ponoka County, also attended the Town of Rimbey meeting. “I’m here to clarify a few things. There were rumors and stuff like that going around that I made a deal with this town to sell land to the county of Ponoka, that’s a falsehood.”

“The second thing is I’ve applied rezoning for a piece of property, and that’s all I’ve done at this stage,” he added.

Cutforth says while the land negotiations with Johnson Estates still stood, Cummings tried to contact him. However, he refused to talk with Cummings while the previous land deal stood.