MOUNTAIN VIEW COUNTY - A proposed land use bylaw redesignation for a so-called glamping retreat facility, with luxury tent accommodations, in the Water Valley/Winchell Lake rural neighbourhood in Division 2 has been defeated.
The proposed redesignation was from agriculture district to direct control district and also included a map amendment to the Water Valley/Winchell Lake area structure plan to change a portion in NE 10-29-5-5 from residential low density to commercial recreational.
Council gave first reading to the proposed changes during the Feb. 22 council meeting. Following a public hearing at the March 29 meeting council defeated second reading.
The Tranquility Base facility was proposed to be located approximately 11.25 miles southwest from Cremona, south of Twp. Rd. 292 and west of Rge. Rd. 52, about three kilometres south of Water Valley and two kilometres west of the Water Valley Golf and Country Club. The property is dissected by Stoney Creek.
The proposed year-round facility was to include seven family-style tents with an occupancy of four people and 14 double occupancy suites. It was anticipated that there would be a maximum of 56 guests on site, as well as 11 total employees.
The application for direct control district required the submission for engineering reports in support of application, including water supply evaluation, site servicing, traffic impact assessment, sanitary site servicing, stormwater management plan, and a biophysical assessment.
More than a dozen letters of objection to the proposal were submitted as part of the redesignation process, many from area residents and landowners.
Concerns identified in the letters included the impact on wildlife and environment, impacts on the aquifer, impacts on property values, noise and light pollution, impact on the local road network, and fire hazard potential.
“We have many apprehension about his proposal and we feel that many concerns that need to be considered in the decision-making process,” one letter writer stated. “We feel that if this proposal is accepted by the county, it will negatively impact the quality of life of the current residents.”
During the public hearing the applicant said the proposed glamping facility would be a good fit for the area.
Several area residents and landowners also spoke during the hearing.
Resident Erdem Erdinc said, “One of the things I really have concern with is emergency access. Do we need to increase our fire department or hospital capacity if something happens? We have a fire hall, but is the fire hall big enough if there is a fire there? And the more people who come into the area the more it will affect the wildlife; it will change the wildlife habitat.”
Resident Mynphia McDaniel said she has concerns with impacts on water, increased traffic, security concerns and possible fire hazards.
“We are concerned about the increase in traffic with having more random vehicles in the surrounding area,” she said.
Following the public hearing, council members spoke on the proposed redesignation.
Coun. Greg Harris, whose Division 2 includes the Water Valley-Winchell Lake area, said, “The fact that that we have a community that near to it and even distant from it is universally united (in opposition), I am unable to support this application.”
Coun. Peggy Johnson said, in part, “I’m concerned about increased development in an environmentally sensitive area.”
Coun. Jennifer Lutz said she supported the application, noting there was some local support for the project.
Coun. Gord Krebs said, “To me, luxury camping does not really fit with our vision of preserving our rural lifestyle. The reason that this area is so popular is because it is so beautiful and it’s so beautiful because there are not a lot of people around. I worry that if we start putting glamping resorts everywhere we are going to lose. For those reasons and because of the overwhelming neighbour concerns, I can’t support it.”
Coun. Dwayne Fulton said, in part, “I’m not comfortable with amending an area structure plan that we are just going to start reviewing. I don’t feel that amending it and then reviewing it immediately thereafter would provide any confidence in that area structure plan to our community.”
Reeve Angela Aalbers said, in part, “I’m not convinced that we have sufficient understanding or information on how this is going to impact the area. We have to be very cautious moving forward as to how we develop some of these areas. I’m not convinced from what I’ve seen that this is going to safeguard the area and protect the environment both for wildlife corridors and such as well.”
Council defeated second reading of the proposed Bylaw No. 04/23 redesignation.
Coun. Alan Miller did not attend the March 29 council meeting.