Lagoon vote delayed as R.M. council seeks clarity on planning rules

From paNOW
July 10, 2018 - 5:00pm Updated: July 10, 2018 - 5:30pm

The future of a lagoon to service North Bay Trailer Park continues to hang in the balance after a vote on the application was tabled by councillors in the Rural Municipality of Buckland.

Buckland lawmakers were set to approve or deny the application for a new lagoon on a 160-acre parcel of land approximately two miles west of Highway 2, near Red Wing Road, Monday afternoon, but proceedings were pushed off. The new structure is needed to replace the failing system for roughly 65 dwellings at the park.

Jason Kaptein, the director of planning and development with the Prince Albert District Planning Committee who works with the R.M., told paNOW councillors were hesitant to vote and sought clarity on changes to a planning document relating to setback distances for lagoons, or liquid waste management facilities, to wells.

Land use matters within the R.M.s of Buckland, Prince Albert and the City are jointly dealt with through the Prince Albert Planning District. That district abides by rules outlined in what is known as a District Official Community Plan (DOCP).

Within the DOCP, which dates back to 2009, a setback distance of 1,600 metres is required for liquid waste management facilities from wells. These are more excessive than the standards set by the Water Security Agency (WSA), which only requires lagoons be 600 metres from residences.

It is believed a number of homes with wells fall within the 1,600-metre distance, but the R.M. does not keep a log of well locations. While the WSA does have a registry, it is not overly accurate.

However, these rules are essentially null and void, as, over the past three years, work has been completed to update the DOCP. In November 2017, the planning district established a new DOCP and both R.M.'s and the City have endorsed the 2018 DOCP through bylaw. New rules in the updated DOCP see a reduction in the setback distances to align with WSA standards: 600 metres. 

But the 2018 DOCP has yet to undergo adoption by the ministry in Regina. This is expected to be complete in the coming weeks, meaning the next time council meets in August, lawmakers will gather under the new planning document. Kaptein said he anticipated ministerial adoption of the updated document months ago.

“It is unfortunate with the timing, but the new setbacks were enforced by the planning commission in November of 2017, which far predates the current application,” he said.

Though R.M. lawmakers are not set to reconvene until Aug. 13, a special meeting could be called to deal with the lagoon application.

If a plan for a new lagoon cannot be decided on before September 1, authorities from the Saskatchewan Water Security Agency (WSA) have said work will begin to decommission the old lagoon, meaning all 200-odd residents of the park could be forced to move.  

A public hearing for the application in early June was punctuated with periodically heated exchanges and rapid-fire back-and-forths from a crowd heavily opposed to the project.

More recently, park owner James Wankel, has threatened to play hardball with all levels of government and lob lawsuits at the RM should they deny his application.

 

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