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Tag: land use bylaw

Not Notley election sign with the word "not" in white letters on red stop-sign shape

‘Not Notley’ sign to come down, says MD of Pincher Creek

The MD of Pincher Creek has asked a resident to take down a political sign from their property, citing the MD’s land use bylaw, which requires permitting for a broad spectrum of free-standing signs. 

Development officer Laura McKinnon said the MD received a complaint about the sign on Thursday, May 18. The sign, which went up on a Burmis property owner’s fence line along Highway 3 at some point in the provincial election campaign, shows a graphic of a stop sign and bears the slogan Not Notley. 

The land use bylaw (1289-18) specifically exempts “election signs” from any permitting requirements, according to Section 55.10, subsection (i), but the bylaw doesn’t explicitly define what an election sign is.

 

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“There is definitely a precedent for this,” McKinnon told Shootin’ the Breeze

In years past, homemade signs for and against the expansion of coal exploration on the Eastern Rockies and signs for and against logging also violated the bylaw and the MD requested that some of these be taken down, McKinnon said. 

Billboards, canopy signs, free-standing signs, portable signs and other types of signs are considered discretionary uses and require permitting from the municipal planning commission, which sits on the first Tuesday of every month.

 

 

The agenda for the commission’s next meeting (Tuesday, June 6) has been finalized, meaning the next available opportunity to apply for the necessary permitting would be Tuesday, July 4 — 36 days after the provincial election. 

Alleged bylaw infractions trigger notifications and requests for compliance by the MD. Formal, written requests are sent to property owners in the case of ongoing infractions. The MD can issue stop-work orders for alleged violations that continue past that point. 

The MD informally contacted the owner of the property at issue on Thursday, asking that the sign be removed. 

No letter or stop-work order has been issued, according to McKinnon.

 

 

Anyone in the MD is free to put up official election signs anywhere on their property, according to the bylaw. 

Election signs can be put up on public land, provided the signs are put within safe distances from roadways, according to Alberta’s Election Act. However, election signs are not allowed to imitate traffic control signs, including stop signs, according to the Government of Alberta’s website. 

MD council passed the land use bylaw in 2018. Enforcement is driven primarily by residents’ complaints, McKinnon said.

 

Albertans head to the polls Monday, May 29.

Advanced voting is open May 23 to 27.

For voter information, including polling stations, see pages 9 to 11.

View Crowsnest Pass election forum videos here: Part 1, Part 2

Individual candidate statements:

Dylin Hauser – Alberta Liberal Party

Kevin Van Tighem – Alberta New Democratic Party

Kevin Todd – Alberta Party

Erik Abildgaard – Independent

Corrie Toone – Independence Party of Alberta

Chelsae Petrovic – United Conservative Party

 

 

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Keyboard with large, orange key with pause written in white letters

MD of Pincher Creek hits pause on rezoning applications

Pincher Creek’s MD is pausing recreational development pending a review of the district’s land use bylaw.

Council voted last month to put off decisions on all rezoning applications for rural recreational development through the end of June, or until council updates the MD’s land use bylaw. The resolution, tabled by deputy reeve Tony Bruder, follows a recent spate of applications by residents and outside entrepreneurs hoping to launch tourist ventures on MD ranchlands, especially campgrounds. 

Ranchers who opposed a rezoning bid by the Waterton outfitter Blak Star Globes had called for a rezoning freeze at a public hearing last November. 

Council voted down Blak Star’s application in December, but approved a broadly similar rezoning at the same meeting. 

“The perception was that we were picking winners and losers,” Reeve Rick Lemire told Shootin’ the Breeze on Feb 8.

 

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Lemire said the MD has heard from a number of hopeful rural recreational developers since the new year, prompting council to take a beat while it hashes out a consistent policy framework. 

Council had planned to update its land use bylaw, which outlines zoning, as part of its upcoming strategic plan — a long-term priority, according to Lemire.  

Seven rezoning applications came through council in 2022, five of which were approved, according to MD spokeswoman Jessica McClelland. 

“We decided that we couldn’t wait,” Lemire said. 

Council sat down for an initial review of its land use bylaw last week, drawing on the advice of Gavin Scott, a planning consultant with the Oldman River Regional Services Commission

The Covid-19 pandemic thrashed Alberta’s tourist economy, plunging tourist spending from $8.2 billion in 2019 to $4.9 billion in 2020 — a 43 per cent decrease, according to Travel Alberta. 

 

Wedding banquet view of wedding venue — the Cowley Lions Campground Stockade near Pincher Creek in southwestern Alberta.

 

But the industry is recovering — tourist spending hit $5.7 billion in 2021 — in part because pandemic travel restrictions inadvertently drew Albertans to camping spots in the Pincher Creek area. 

“There’s going to be lots of rezoning applications coming, so we need to look at them with a refreshed perspective,” Lemire said, explaining that council went through a similar process when windmills started to crop up in the MD.  

“We did a study that showed us where we wanted windmills to go and where we didn’t want them to go. So, we’re doing something similar here for campgrounds.” 

Developers can still file rezoning applications in the interim, but a staff report appended to council’s Jan. 13 agenda notes that “Council has the right to refuse them at first reading.”

 

Table setting of wedding venue — the Cowley Lions Campground Stockade near Pincher Creek in southwestern Alberta.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Campers and green jeep parked in campground

Crowsnest Pass council updates land use bylaw

Crowsnest Pass council unanimously voted through a comprehensive update to the municipality’s land use bylaw.

The bylaw, last amended in 2013, encompasses a broad array of land uses and development requirements. Council voted down a proposed amendment last October, largely over concerns that the amendment would have allowed people to live in campgrounds within the municipality year-round. 

Council’s new bylaw (1132, 2022) bars year-round camping, but RV park operators can now apply for permits allowing for year-round occupancy in RVs, provided that live-in RVs are connected to in-ground water and wastewater services.

Permit applications must specify the number of permanent RVs and the percentage of RV parks to be devoted to year-round occupancy. 

 

Ace of spades card on ad for Chase the Ace at the Pincher Creek Legion

 

RV owners can’t dump wastewater in the municipal sewer system or at municipal wastewater facilities. 

One RV can be stored and lived in on a permitted residential lot during construction, according to the bylaw’s updated standards.

RVs can be stored on commercial lots only if owners are granted a permit under the bylaw’s new temporary storage yard designation. 

Commercial vehicles cannot be parked at short-term rentals or B&Bs.

 

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When this point came up for discussion at council’s Feb. 7 meeting, Johann Van Der Bank, director of planning and development, explained that a number of residents had complained about work crews parking giant trucks in residential neighbourhoods. In one instance, Van Der Bank said, a work crew had pruned trees on a short-term rental property without permission, leaving debris strewn on the driveway and on the street. 

Sea cans may be permanently stored in residential neighbourhoods, provided that the cans are covered by a pitched roof and covered in siding so that they resemble sheds, according to the new bylaw. 

 

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Council had invited residents to share their input on the bylaw amendment at a public hearing during council’s Feb. 7 meeting, but no one showed up. 

Municipal administration hadn’t received any written submissions on the bylaw, Patrick Thomas, the municipality’s chief administrative officer, told council.

 

Read more from the Breeze:

MD of Pincher Creek hits pause on rezoning applications

Short-term rental bylaw amendment deferred

Windmill controversy continues in MD of Pincher Creek

 

Pig roast at wedding venue — the Cowley Lions Campground Stockade near Pincher Creek in southwestern Alberta.

 

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Grey rocks/gravel

Alberta Rocks gravel pit rezoning approved

MD of Pincher Creek council last month approved a rezoning application to expand a gravel pit in Villa Vega, a subdivision in the southwest corner of Division 5, near the intersection of Highway 3 and Highway 507.

The rezoning changes the lot’s land use designation from agriculture to direct control by council through an amendment to the MD’s land use bylaw, advancing the proposed expansion to the development permitting phase.

Craig Anderson filed the application in August on behalf of Alberta Rocks Ltd. Council unanimously rejected a similar application by the company roughly two years ago, according to Reeve Rick Lemire. 

Lemire reminded council that the MD hadn’t approved the original gravel pit when it was sunk into the ground about 15 years ago. The lot owner shut the pit down after a sternly worded letter from the MD, but Lemire says the land was never reclaimed.

Aerial view of the Cowley Lions Campground on the Castle River in southwestern Alberta

Alberta Rocks hopes to dig a new pit on the site to extend roughly five hectares. Anderson’s application promises to fill in the pit after it’s retired and then establish suitable ground cover to prevent erosion. 

The application says operations would run from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. throughout the week, with no operations on weekends or statutory holidays. There will be no gravel crushing on-site. The application details a September 2019 sound test that showed “low sound levels” during pit operations. 

The application says the pit is “downwind” from most Villa Vega homes, but doesn’t include specific plans for dust mitigation. 

The application triggered a public hearing in October, minutes of which show Anderson suggesting he’d use dust-control products. 

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Five of Anderson’s neighbours spoke against the rezoning, raising concerns about noise, dust and unwelcome neighbourhood disruptions.

When council took up Anderson’s application on Dec. 13, Lemire said he couldn’t support the rezoning. 

“This project was denied two years ago,” he said. “As far as I’m concerned, the same conditions are still there.” 

Lemire acknowledged that redesignating the lot under direct control gives council broad authority to impose strict conditions, but said the MD doesn’t have the resources to enforce compliance. 

“I just don’t think we have the manpower to do all that at this time,” he explained. 

Deputy reeve Tony Bruder also voted against the application, with Couns. David Cox, Harold Hollingshead and John MacGarva voting in favour.

 

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More from the Breeze:

Public hearing focuses on proposed gravel pit

 

 

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Dark-haired woman in white shirt leans against a dark brown podium and speaks into a microphone while two men listen with interest from a table to the side of her

Short-term rental bylaw amendment deferred

Pincher Creek’s town council voted late Monday to defer its vote on a bylaw amendment designed to regulate short-term rentals within town limits.

Monday’s decision at chambers followed a lengthy public hearing that saw around 50 residents and at least one out-of-town investor pile into the gym at town hall, with many speaking for and against the amendment.

If passed, the amendment would put permitting and licensing requirements on upwards of 20 short-term rentals already operating in town through tourist accommodation websites like Airbnb and VRBO, and limiting STRs not lived in by their operators to five per cent of homes per residential street.

No such limit would apply to STRs with live-in operators. Bed-and-breakfast operators would not be allowed to operate STRs on their licenced premises.

Pincher Creek’s current land use bylaw doesn’t mention STRs at all, though in practice, town hall has granted business licences on an ad-hoc basis to operators that have applied, according to chief administrative officer Laurie Wilgosh.

The bylaw was drafted by Steve Harty of the Lethbridge planning commission, Oldman River Regional Services, which Wilgosh said provides planning and development guidance to Pincher Creek and several outlying municipalities.

 

Indoor and outdoor view of wedding venue — the Cowley Lions Campground Stockade near Pincher Creek in southwestern Alberta.

 

Reading his council report to start Monday’s hearing, Harty told the audience that the town’s STR industry needs some form of regulation amid growing concerns on the part of operators who want clear expectations from town hall and residents who say STRs are putting pressure on the town’s tight long-term rental and real estate markets. STRs are meanwhile subject to the province’s new tourist levy and the federal GST, Harty added.

Speaking for the amendment, Lane Heggie said he owned and operated a purpose-built STR on the 1000-block of Livingston Way, but doesn’t live in Pincher Creek.

Clear, reasonable regulations would serve the community well, he said, adding that operators should talk frequently with their neighbours to speedily resolve conflicts.

Lynn Brasnett, a longtime area Realtor and former rental property manager, pointedly reminded the audience that shutting out STRs would do little to boost the town’s rental stock.

“We have run a less than one per cent vacancy rate in this town for over 30 years,” she said, insisting that many STR operators would likely have to sell off their investment properties if they couldn’t market their services on Airbnb, or the like.

 

 

Japhia Epp told Monday’s hearing that her and her husband’s short-term rentals boost other small businesses in Pincher Creek. Photo by Laurie Tritschler
Japhia Epp told Monday’s hearing that her and her husband’s short-term rentals boost other small businesses in Pincher Creek. Photo by Laurie Tritschler
Pincher Creek residents Joan Brees, left,  and Chantal Laliberte chat before addressing Monday’s public hearing. Photo by Laurie Tritschler
Pincher Creek residents Joan Brees, left, and Chantal Laliberte chat before addressing Monday’s public hearing. Photo by Laurie Tritschler
Coun. Brian Wright looks on as Realtor Lynn Brasnett speaks at Monday’s public hearing. Photo by Laurie Tritschler
Coun. Brian Wright looks on as Realtor Lynn Brasnett speaks at Monday’s public hearing. Photo by Laurie Tritschler

 

 

Jenae Toews, who runs an STR in town with her husband, agreed.

“At this time in our lives, with my husband doing school, we more than likely wouldn’t be able to afford to keep the property as a long-term rental,” she said.  

Japhia Epp, a paramedic with Pincher Creek Emergency Services, said she and her husband own three long-term rentals and four STRs.

“We get a lot of families that come to Pincher Creek, and some of them say, ‘We would not come here if there wasn’t a place to stay like this.’ ”

Epp went on to say that she and her husband actively promote other local businesses to their Airbnb guests.

Coun. Wayne Oliver then asked Epp how she’d feel about living next to an STR.

“I am a neighbour to a short-term rental in this community,” she replied. “I do know the owners of the house and have regular communication with them. The idea is that, ‘If anything goes wrong, you let me know.’ ”

 

 

Speaking against the bylaw, Chantal Laliberte stressed the town’s burgeoning housing crisis.

“If Pincher Creek was a town with plenty of long-term rentals and plenty of affordable housing, I wouldn’t be standing here, talking to you

“Housing is not like any other commodity. It’s not like gold, which is a commodity but is not a human right,” she said, drawing on the UN’s founding text, which enshrines the right to adequate housing.

Joan Brees then took the podium, listing 22 questions and concerns from residents she said weren’t able to attend the hearing. These ranged from the town’s apparent lack of authority to enforce whatever regulations council might approve to noise complaints, parking shortages and safety concerns by worried neighbours.

One resident who spoke to Brees said a vacation home on their block had been rented to 15 people “and kiddos” last summer. Residents don’t want to see “party people” take over their streets, Brees said.

 

 

Sgt. Ryan Hodge, commanding officer at Pincher Creek RCMP, said Monday afternoon that he was not aware of any 911 complaints specifically related to disturbances or noise complaints at local STRs.

Pat Neumann, chief of Pincher Creek Emergency Services, said in a written statement to council that he would welcome the amendment’s regulations, noting that a map of active STRs would probably help fire and ambulance crews.

Presiding over council’s meeting at chambers, Mayor Don Anderberg and Coun. Oliver were quick to suggest putting off a final vote.

“Getting this right would be nice, right off the bat,” Anderberg said.

While he was personally in favour of regulating STRs, the mayor cautioned that council needed more time to deliberate.

Coun. Sahra Nodge countered that council should come to a vote, having just taken in “a very respectful, very informative public hearing.”

But the emerging consensus resolved that the amendment needed tightening up, ending in a unanimous vote to revisit the amendment at council’s next meeting, Monday, Nov. 28.

 

 

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