July/22 Council Update
Updated: Nov 16, 2022
• APPLICATION FOR TWO 2-ACRE PARCELS IN BEARSPAW REFUSED
• LANGDON MIXED RESIDENTIAL DEVELOPMENT REFERRED BACK TO ADMINISTRATION
• GRAVEL PIT IN DIVISION 5 REFERRED BACK TO ADMINISTRATION
• 2 APPLICATIONS TO CLOSE THE SAME ROAD ALLOWANCE IN SPRINGBANK REFUSED
APPLICATION FOR TWO 2-ACRE PARCELS IN BEARSPAW REFUSED
An application to create a 2-acre parcel with a 2-acre remainder in the Poplar Hill area of
Bearspaw was refused unanimously. Administration recommended refusal.
The application was originally heard in November when the applicant had been asked to
prepare a concept scheme for the quarter section as directed by the Bearspaw Area Structure Plan. Recognizing the onerous nature of a concept scheme, Council reduced the request to providing information on stormwater management as well as a lot and road plan outlining how the quarter section could be developed.
At the July 12th hearing, the applicant presented the information as requested, however,
Council concluded that the lot and road plan was deficient. Furthermore, the re-circulated application received more letters of opposition beyond those from the original public hearing.
When the applicant was asked if he had done any additional public engagement with his
neighbours, he indicated that he had not as he knew they were not in support. This application highlighted problems associated with infill subdivision in areas that are already heavily subdivided. It is cost prohibitive to ask one landowner, especially with only one 4-acre parcel, to do a concept scheme for an entire quarter section. The existing process also makes it difficult to create community buy-in. As part of the Bearspaw Area Structure Plan review, it may be worth considering whether the County should be involved in comprehensively planning infill subdivision and providing overlay maps for future subdivision in those areas.
LANGDON MIXED RESIDENTIAL DEVELOPMENT REFERRED BACK TO ADMINISTRATION
An application in Langdon to redesignate from Residential, Urban District and Special, Public Service District to Residential, Mid-Density Urban District and Direct Control District, to facilitate a variety of housing forms including a seniors’ development was referred to Administration for additional information. Administration recommended approval.
The land in question was part of a land swap between the County, Rocky View Schools, and the developer that facilitated a more coherent layout for Langdon’s joint-use site where the high school is being constructed. Approval of the application is the final step in that land swap.
Because the lands were originally part of the joint-use site, the Langdon ASP excluded them from the need to prepare a concept scheme for residential development. As a result, Administration had not required a concept scheme. However, the proposal was significantly different and a much higher density than what could be developed under its existing land use.
In the discussion, it became evident that the applicant hadn’t done any public consultation on the proposal, beyond the County’s circulation notice for the public hearing. Additionally, although no concept scheme had been prepared, the applicant had completed most of the work that would go into one.
Based on these factors, Council voted unanimously to support Councillor Schule’s motion to have Administration work with the applicant on public consultation that would include an open house and a mailout to all residents within the Langdon hamlet with details outlining the site concept, densities and community impacts.
GRAVEL PIT IN DIVISION 5 REFERRED BACK TO ADMINISTRATION
The Roe pit, in Division 5 was a County gravel pit decommissioned in the 1980s. The County has been working on reclamation on the site since that time. Burnco submitted an application to take over the pit, which is adjacent to its Irricana pit, and extract the remaining gravel, all of which is below the water table.
While extracting below the water table sounds off-putting, it is common in Alberta. In fact, the Burnco pit to the immediate east is, in part, a wet pit. Administration had requested that the applicant prepare a Master Site Development Plan, as required under the County Plan for all gravel applications. However, due to the site’s history, Administration had indicated that some of the mandated technical reports could be scaled back.
In response, Burnco, claimed that none of these technical reports were necessary since the land was already a gravel pit. Burnco also argued that they were not doing anything different from what they were doing on the neighbouring lands and that the Province, who administers the Water Act and is responsible for approving gravel extraction below the water table, would be the ones who should determine whether a hydrological study was necessary.
Councillor Boehlke initially moved to approve the application and defer any technical studies to those the Province required stating that Burnco’s reputation preceded them. However, it quickly became evident that he had little support so he retracted his motion and moved to refer the application back to Administration to work with the applicant to create a Master Site Development Plan that met Administration’s technical requirements.
His second motion was supported unanimously.
In my opinion, the existing gravel pit had not been licensed to extract gravel below the water table, so using its existence to allow a qualitatively different operation without appropriate studies was unacceptable.
2 APPLICATIONS TO CLOSE THE SAME ROAD ALLOWANCE IN SPRINGBANK REFUSED
In an odd twist of events, two applications were brought forward to close the south portion of Range Road 31 in Springbank – one of few public access points to the Elbow River. Administration recommended refusal for both applications.
The original application was made by the landowner to the west of the road allowance. He stated that his application had two objectives – to pro-actively secure access to his parcel prior to development as well as to stop trespassing on his property as the public accessed the Elbow River. His land is part of an approved concept scheme that permits 2-acre parcels.
The second application was from a neighbour to the east who said his application was a counter to the original application. He wanted to acquire the land to ensure that it maintained public access to the River. Of note, he felt that both applications should be refused and the land remain as a publicly accessible road allowance.
Council held the public hearing for the first application and then tabled it to hear the second application before making its decision. Both applications received over 100 letters of opposition.
Questions were raised about the first applicant’s trespass claims as the Springbank Creek flows through his property and the public has the right to access the creek. His assertion
that he needed to close the road allowance for access to his southern parcel was also
questionable since he owned the parcel to the north which has access to Range Road 31.
As for the second applicant, his property does not directly abut the road allowance as the
landowner immediately south of the applicant owns the narrow strip of land that does.
Furthermore, there was concern if he gained ownership that an easement providing public access could be problematic since it might be removed should the land be sold in the future.
Council refused both applications. In a motion arising, Councillor Hanson asked Administration to prepare a report for Council by the end of November outlining options to promote safe and accessible pathways to water bodies and water courses along road allowances, while mitigating negative impacts to adjacent landowners. His motion was supported unanimously.
Our CAO, Dorian Wandzura, has now been with the County for a little over 3 months. In his commitment to create a culture of transparency, the CAO will be providing quarterly reports outlining what Administration is/has been working on. On July 26th, Mr. Wandzura provided his first report.
His report began with the statement that “to get to this point, in June of 2022, Council
underwent a process to identify and agree on strategic priorities commencing in 2022. From that work, eight significant projects were identified that reflect those strategic priorities and have been supported with sound project management practices and processes.”
The eight projects are: governance improvement, strategic development, a service capacity review, organizational strategy (people plan), long-term financial forecast, soft-levies, solar farm strategy, area structure plan review. All but the first are proposed to be done by consultant with in-house assistance. The first will be done completely in-house.
To fund these initiatives, Council approved a $1,038,800 budget adjustment. As you may note, some of these are quite high level, while others will require deep dives into
current practices. The outcome, I hope, will be finally being able to chart a clear path forward for the County by taking an inventory of where we are today, comparing it to where we want to go, and creating a road map for how to get there. While this sounds simple, it is something that, in my opinion, has been sorely lacking and is long overdue.