County of Stettler drawing hard line to protect Buffalo Lake from encroachment

County of Stettler is cracking down on property owners who are encroaching into setbacks meant to protect Buffalo Lake.

County of Stettler is cracking down on property owners who are encroaching into setbacks meant to protect Buffalo Lake.

One Buffalo View Estates resident recently ran afoul of the county after he cut a path through the woods on a 20-metre strip of protected land to get access to his floating dock on the south side of the lake. The county issued a stop work order after discovering about 30 trees had been removed.

Ordered to replant about 20 native trees, the landowner took his case to the county’s subdivision and development appeal board last month — and lost. The resident was ordered to replant the trees by next June or the county will undertake the work and charge the landowner, up to a maximum cost of $100,000.

The cost of replacing the trees was estimated at $20,000 by the county.

Johan van der Bank, the county’s director of planning and development, said a number of other property owners have also illegally cleared trees out of the environmental reserve. Those sites are being surveyed to determine how many trees were lost and letters will be sent to landowners, likely later this month, informing them the damage must be repaired.

“People just assume what is in front of their property belongs to them, but does not,” he said.

The county began its campaign to clear away encroachments on reserve lands in 2009, when the lakeshore was surveyed to determine where the reserve boundaries lay. Encroachments, such as sheds, boat houses, retaining walls and fire pits were identified and the owners notified. Most people understood what the county was trying to do and were co-operative, said van der Bank. “We had a very good response on that.”

Where residents had mistakenly built substantial structures costing in the thousands, the county has looked for a compromise where suitable.

“We’re looking at giving them the option of doing some boundary adjustments there,” he said.

Enforcing the rules is important because if one group of landowners is allowed to cut their own paths to the lake it will inspire others to follow. Communities around the lake were designed specifically to include designated access points for the public, he said.

Environmental reserves are set aside to protect the lake by providing a buffer between development and fragile ecosystems, which are vulnerable to fertilizer-contaminated runoff and other pollutants.

For the county, there is also a financial risk by allowing illegal structures or paths to pop up in reserve areas. If a mountain biker was to hit a stump on an illegal path, or slam into a fire pit, the county could be held liable, he said.

The County of Stettler isn’t the only municipality wrestling with encroachment issues. Lacombe County undertook its own an inventory on Gull and Sylvan Lakes in 2008. Encroachments were identified and landowners ordered to remove them. Temporary docks were allowed to remain, as well as existing trails and stairs, as long as they met building codes and were approved by the county. A licensing system was set up by the municipality to track those encroachments.

A second inventory was recently completed and turned up a number of new encroachments, prompting the county to issue another round of notifications to those with illegal structures.

pcowley@bprda.wpengine.com

— copyright Red Deer Advocate

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

This unicorn was stolen from the small community of Delia, northeast of Drumheller on Friday and was recovered, with its bronze horn broken off, on Saturday. RCMP are looking for information on the suspects.
(Photo from RCMP)
Unicorn statue stolen from Delia recovered

Statue found with horn broken off in field about 15 km from Delia

(Advocate file photo)
Lacombe man whose manslaughter sentence was rejected by judge has new lawyer

Judge rejected proposed seven-year sentence for manslaughter in connection with 2019 homicide

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau holds a news conference at Rideau cottage in Ottawa, on Friday, March 13, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Fred Chartrand
Liberals to release federal budget with eye on managing crisis, post-pandemic growth

OTTAWA — The federal government will this afternoon unveil its spending plans… Continue reading

Patches are seen on the arm and shoulder of a corrections officer in the segregation unit at the Fraser Valley Institution for Women during a media tour, in Abbotsford, B.C., on Thursday, Oct. 26, 2017. Correctional Service Canada says three inmates at Fraser Valley Institution recently tested positive for COVID-19. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
Drumheller Institution inmate dies in custody

Inmate’s April 15 death under investigation

In this image from NASA, NASA's experimental Mars helicopter Ingenuity lands on the surface of Mars Monday, April 19, 2021. The little 4-pound helicopter rose from the dusty red surface into the thin Martian air Monday, achieving the first powered, controlled flight on another planet. (NASA via AP)
NASA’s Mars helicopter takes flight, 1st for another planet

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. — NASA’s experimental helicopter Ingenuity rose into the thin… Continue reading

A vial of the Medicago vaccine sits on a surface. CARe Clinic, located in Red Deer, has been selected to participate in the third phase of vaccine study. (Photo courtesy www.medicago.com)
Red Deer clinical research centre participating in plant-based COVID-19 vaccine trial

A Red Deer research centre has been selected to participate in the… Continue reading

In this Feb. 24, 2020, photo, the Olympics rings are reflected on the window of a hotel restaurant as a server with a mask sets up a table, in the Odaiba section of Tokyo. The vaccine rollout in Japan has been very slow with less than 1% vaccinated. This of course is spilling over to concerns about the postponed Tokyo Olympics that open in just over three months.(AP Photo/Jae C. Hong, File)
Will Japanese Olympians be vaccinated ahead of the public?

TOKYO — The vaccine rollout in Japan has been very slow with… Continue reading

PSG's Kylian Mbappe, right, greets Bayern's Lucas Hernandez at the end of the Champions League, second leg, quarterfinal soccer match between Paris Saint Germain and Bayern Munich at the Parc des Princes stadium, in Paris, France, Tuesday, April 13, 2021. (AP Photo/Francois Mori)
PSG, Bayern the big names missing from Super League plan

DÜSSELDORF, Germany — The plan for the new Super League soccer competition… Continue reading

In this image released by Paramount Pictures, Marion Cotillard, left, and Brad Pitt appear in a scene from "Allied." (Daniel Smith/Paramount Pictures via AP)
Leo Carax’s ‘Annette’ to open Cannes Film Festival

Leo Carax’s “Annette,” starring Marion Cotillard and Adam Driver, will open the… Continue reading

From left, Producer Doug Mitchell, actor Chris Hemsworth and director George Miller attend at a press conference to announce the new "Mad Max" film at Fox Studios Australia in Sydney, Monday, April 19, 2021. (Mick Tsikas/AAP Image via AP)
‘Mad Max’ prequel shot in Outback to be released in 2023

SYDNEY, Australia — A prequel to the “Mad Max” movie franchise starring… Continue reading

In this Feb. 1, 2021 file photo, emissions from a coal-fired power plant are silhouetted against the setting sun in Independence, Mo. President Joe Biden faces a vexing task as he convenes a virtual climate summit on Thursday. He is expected to present a nonbinding but symbolic goal to reduce greenhouse gas emissions that will have a tangible impact not only on climate change efforts in the U.S. but throughout the world. (AP Photo/Charlie Riedel, File)
Biden pressed on emissions goal as climate summit nears

WASHINGTON — When President Joe Biden convenes a virtual climate summit on… Continue reading

Women wearing masks wait near an advertisement ahead of the Auto Shanghai 2021 show in Shanghai on Sunday, April 18, 2021. Automakers from around the world are showcasing their latest products this week in the world's biggest market for auto vehicles. (AP Photo/Ng Han Guan)
VW, Ford unveil SUVs at China auto show under virus controls

SHANGHAI — Volkswagen, Ford and Chinese brands unveiled new SUVs for China… Continue reading

Investigators from the Vancouver Police Department were in Chilliwack Saturday, collecting evidence connected to a double homicide. (file photo)
Police investigate shooting death of man outside downtown Vancouver restaurant

Vancouver police say one man was killed in what they believe was… Continue reading

Dr. E. Kwok administers a COVID-19 vaccine to a recipient at a vaccination clinic run by Vancouver Coastal Health, in Richmond, B.C., Saturday, April 10, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
B.C. to start registering people 18 years and older for COVID-19 vaccines

VICTORIA — The British Columbia government says it’s inviting people 18 years… Continue reading

Most Read