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County meeting has visit from MP Damien Kurek, delegation on South Shore Area Structure Plan

Updated: Jul 14, 2021 July 14, 2021 @ 4:45pm

Today’s County of Stettler Council meeting included a visit from Damien Kurek, MP and delegations in opposition to South Shore Area Structure Plan.

Other topics consisted of requests for decisions including sale of graders and agreeing to start administrative efforts to facilitate internet service provider Netago to begin upgrading internet across the county.

The initial phase of the Netago agreement will start in Erskine with the company able to string new lines from existing power poles with help from ATCO electric. The new project will help to bring fibre optic internet to much of the county, similar to the current fibre optic lines installed in town by TELUS.

First to address the council was Member of Parliament, Damien Kurek. Mr. Kurek thanked council for the work they have done as "ground level" government officials. He explained that all levels of government are important from federal to municipal, and stressed how his party works to make it easier for those different levels to work together. He also spoke on how his party was aware of ongoing rural concerns such as law enforcement.

After addressing the council, Mr. Kurek opened the floor for questions.

Councilor Nixon asked about his feelings on the current lawsuit against the speaker of the house. Mr. Kurek said he was frustrated with the Liberal government’s lack of respect for the democratic process by their actions. He also understood Councilor Nixon’s concern why the ongoing lawsuit against the speaker isn't getting a lot of media attention. Mr. Kurek responded: “Most egregiously (I would suggest) by suing the speaker.”

“In Canada, parliamentary supremacy rules.”

“Trudeau has found it a nuisance to not have unfettered control of the House of Commons.”

“The result has been disastrous.”

“This is a constitutional crisis. Make no doubt.”

“We are endeavoring to make sure this gets out.”

Mr. Kurek was given an open invitation to attend County Safety Committee meetings then asked his opinion on rural crime, and the current ‘catch and release' practice the court system seems to be doing. He was also informed of complaints from those that are frustrated with the equalization payments. Mr. Kurek spoke on new bills his party is trying to develop to support law enforcement, saying he has spoken with RCMP members who find it almost a ‘fruitless endeavor’ to put offenders behind bars. He also agreed the equalization system needs to be addressed by the government. He noted he has spoken to people from Quebec who feel the system isn’t working the way it was designed.

When asked about the pressure on FCSS organizations with Service Canada offices being closed during the pandemic, Kurek expressed his aggravation that the Service Canada offices haven’t started to open in many smaller areas, and their website is very difficult to use.

A resident of Red Willow addressed the county about the ongoing problems he has had with the county dumping the sewage lagoon in a nearby ditch that is adjacent to his property. He explains the overflow doesn’t travel as the county believes and has flooded farmland he owns, preventing his renter from planting crops on a large area near the ditch. The resident hopes the county was willing to continue to investigate the situation, before dumping the lagoon again, and having a repeat flood of his land.

James Marshall from Marshall Trucking spoke about several run-ins with County Enforcement and County Administration over what he feels is the county playing favorites with his competition. Marshall stated his competitor is allowed to operate without proper permits, and takes gravel, dirt and rock from land they do not own title to. He is also struggling with being forced to ensure reclamation on his pit properties, while the county is letting one of their own former pits become naturally overgrown naturally, and not actually reclaiming it. Marshall's presentation to the county was a list of communiques with county officials, including FOIP requests showing applied permits for hauling companies in the county, and the discrepancies from what he’s been told, and what the FOIPS, and previous conversations, have led him to believe. He was also concerned with his company receiving stop-work orders, while the competing company seems to continue to operate regardless of the situations that come up.

Dallas Pybus of Northstar trucking addressed the council briefly about the road use agreements system. He had spoken with Council about the new agreement system, stating it would not be an efficient way to operate and, as he expected, has been having troubles with it. One concern was the window of process time from applying for a permit and being able to get one. Pybus expressed frustration of having to pay for a permit and waiting on a permit, while there seemed to be other companies moving around the county without proper permitting. He is understanding of the needs for a system to be in place, but the process time is hard for his company to work with, especially at peak times in their business. Council assured him they were dealing with those who operated without permits, but that it was a slow process and would review changes to the road use agreement system.

Proceedings began for a public hearing on the South Shore Area Structure Plan (bylaw 1662-21) set to repeal the Paradise Shore and Buffalo Lake South Shore IDP, and guidelines for future development, and development density. It is designed to guide growth in the South Shore area while staying within the Buffalo Lake IDP established by the county, and neighboring municipalities around the lake, as well as letting landowners know what they can expect if they wish to develop.

A large part of the public response was in opposition to the current plan as it stands. Several written submissions were made before July 9, and were put in to the council’s package for the meeting. Several more written submissions, in opposition, were received after the 9th and these were read for the record. Vocal submissions were made by lake residents and groups representing residents and owners. There were concerns about the vague guidelines that cap development limits and leaves the cap open to being changed/increased. Other concerns were addressed in regards to RVs on development properties, and how the guidelines were drawn and could be enforced so people weren’t just leaving their RVs on the lots for indefinite periods. Other concerns were brought up, with many groups echoing the same concerns such as traffic, boating safety, and access for emergency services, or safely getting large numbers of people off the water if rough weather should move in.

The County Resource Office showed a PowerPoint presentation to the Council and attendees either in person or via video. The presentation touched on the area that would be directly affected by the new Structure Plan, as well as changes to the plan that were made after previous public consultations. One concern addressed was preventing developers from buying property for development but not doing anything to the property for several years. Other changes were more specific guidelines for vehicular access points.

Councilor Grover motioned to accept a second reading of the bylaw. The council had mentioned intentions to give the bylaw the third reading as well, but several councilors went on record that in the interest of good relations, and assuring the public they are listening to their concerns, that they hold off on the third reading. This allows the bylaw to be reviewed again so suggested changes can be reviewed and possibly made. The motion for the second reading was passed, and the bylaw was slated for future review.

Council discussed the 3-party agreement with the Town and Clearview School Division. The new agreement is in regards to the Resource Officer that is paid for between the 3 parties and is assigned to Clearview Schools. The county hopes that the new agreement will be more flexible for all parties, and a new steering committee has been formed under the agreement to help resolve any issues. The county notes that Clearview had discussed walking away from the program altogether, but agreed to sit in on negotiations of a new agreement, and seem to be happy with the changes made.


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