The County of St. Paul made an exception to its 30 metre minimum for environmental reserve or easement following a lengthy discussion and a split vote at the Oct. 13 council meeting.
Environmental reserves are used to “preserve natural features of land, prevent pollution, ensure public access, and prevent the development of land that is subject to flooding or unstable,” according to a fact sheet from Municipal Affairs.
The request was made by a landowner owner bordering Owlseye Lake and was originally discussed at the Sept. 8 council meeting.
According to information provided to council, the landowner wants to create roughly a 6.5 acre parcel bordering the lake.
A public hearing of the proposal was held at the Oct. 13 meeting with no feedback for or against the exception from area residents or stakeholders.
According to an e-mail shared with council by County of St. Paul CAO Sheila Kitz, based on the vegetation around the lake Alberta Environment would likely require much more than the six metre environmental reserve requested by the landowner.
“The landowner may still be unhappy even if we make the exception,” said Kitz.
One option was to create an environmental reserve easement, which would mean the landowner continues to own the property but is required to keep it in its natural state.
Coun. Maxine Fodness expressed strong support for the idea.
“I think as a municipality we really need to encourage people to develop properties to acquire that extra revenue for the county, rather than making it more regulated,” said Fodness.
Reeve Steve Upham argued against making any exception.
“The problem is we’ve got legislation that’s in place, and we’ve got professional advice warning us against doing something other than what’s available. And I think we need to be very cognizant of that,” said Upham.
“We’ve had many people here, generally about the misuse of environmental reserve. So I think it’s important to take that stand, okay, we’re going to try to protect the environment,” said Coun. Darrell Younghans.
A motion to approve the exception carried with Coun. Dale Hedrick, Maxine Fodness, Cliff Martin, and Kevin Wirsta voting for and Coun. Laurent Amyotte, Darrell Younghans, and Reeve Steve Upham voting against.