In a split 5-2 vote, Stettler County council gave second reading to two bylaws paving the way for Paradise Shores RV resort.
Reeve Larry Clarke, along with councillors Ernie Gendre, James Nibourg, Wayne Nixon and Les Stulberg, voted in favour. Councillors Cheri Neitz and Dave Grover voted against, citing it may appear to their ratepayers that they’re pushing the bylaws through as a reason.
“We only got this information last night,” said Coun. Dave Grover during council’s regular meeting May 9, referring to the Villages of Rochon and White sands dropping their dispute against Stettler County for the proposed Paradise Shores RV resort.
“If we ran this through today it looks to us like we snuck it under the map.”
Likewise, Coun. Cheri Neitz agreed.
“It’s like Dave said, we need to have more time for our public to read it. It’s been less than 24 hours.”
Coun. James Nibourg, however, disagreed and said to Coun. Neitz, “But what changes?”
Coun. Neitz replied, “More information is disseminated to our public.”
“But what changes to you?” Coun. Nibourg again asked.
“More information to our public,” reiterated Coun. Neitz.
Coun. Nibourg said he didn’t want to wait and hold a special meeting.
“Each time we have a special meeting it costs upwards of $3,000 to $4,000. I have all the information to make my decision.”
Coun. Wayne Nixon said they gathered information from various sources and are expected by their ratepayers to “vote intelligently” with the information they were given.
“We have taken flack over the past two to three months from people who were disrespectful to us and still try to keep an open mind, and we promised the two summer villages we would take into consideration all matters raised. We expressed all the concerns to the developer. We can’t impose any conditions on them until we have a development permit.
“We need to pony up and we need to vote,” added Coun. Nixon.
Coun. Neitz made a motion to table second reading of the two bylaws until May 16 but the motion was defeated.
Council voted in favour of accepting the minutes of the agreement reached between Buffalo Lake South Shore IDP Committee and the developer to scale down the development from 1,000 RV lots to 750 lots.
The county previously couldn’t give second reading to the two bylaws after the Summer Villages of Rochon and White sands filed objections to the development. The villages said the development was a subdivision rather than an RV resort.
Bylaws get second reading
The two bylaws, one to adopt Paradise Shores Area Structure Plan as a guide for the development, and a bylaw to rezone land from agricultural to recreational, were given second reading. Councillors Neitz and Grover voted against.
Council also appointed a committee to participate with Stettler County administration to discuss development permit conditions for Phase 1 of the proposed Paradise Shores Campground. The committee includes Reeve Clarke, Coun. Neitz and Coun. Stulberg.
Opposition to proposed development
In March, about 400 people attended a public hearing in Stettler for the proposed high-density RV development. Twenty people spoke against. Only the developer spoke in favour. The county received 32 letters of support and 121 submissions against.
The proposed development is also opposed by a grassroots group of Buffalo Lake area residents led by Darrel Hicke of Calgary. He started an online petition in February that obtained more than 1,000 signatures.
In addition, both Lacombe and Camrose Counties gave Stettler County letters of concern over the project. They said the proposed development didn’t comply with the environmental requirements of the Buffalo Lake Inter-municipal Development Plan that requires any changes in land use or development avoid environmentally sensitive areas and important wildlife habitat. The opposing counties took issue with the developer not completing requirements of the Environmental Review because, to date, the environmental studies only cover Phase I of the development but the developer asked for approval for all three phases.
About the proposed development
Paradise Shores RV Resort, on about 110 acres along Buffalo Lake, is expected to also include a retail store so residents don’t have to drive to Stettler to purchase items, a clubhouse, restaurant, spa, fitness area, bar, marina, a swimming pool, tennis courts and cottages.
Now that the two bylaws received second reading, the county will consult with the summer villages and draft development permit conditions and start negotiating those conditions with the developer for Phase 1, which includes about 370 RV stalls. The proposed development still needs approval from Alberta Environment.