A playhouse and gazebo dealer can display wares along Hwy 2, although one Red Deer County councillor feared it could open the door to roadside eyesores.
“I’m really reluctant to go there,” said Councillor Jim Lougheed, of the application by Rustic Backyard Structures for a temporary development permit to showcase its products on property next to the highway just north of Innisfail. “This is just the thin edge of the wedge as far as I can tell.”
Lougheed proposed that the five-year temporary permit be changed to a one-year approval to allow the county to review the application sooner. That amendment was defeated at Tuesday’s county municipal planning commission meeting. The application for a five-year permit was approved 6-1 with Lougheed opposed.
“I think really what we’re doing is setting precedents here,” he warned.
County Mayor Earl Kinsella said he has no problem with the display of gazebos and playhouses, some of which are elaborate structures mimicking lighthouses or galleons, but did not want to see unsightly equipment stored nearby as had happened in the past.
Councillor Archibald voted in favour of Rustic’s application, but said she does not want to see the highway corridor lined with ugly and distracting displays.
“We can’t have clutter,” she said. “We want to keep it neat, clean and visible.”
Allowing the land along the highway to become too congested could also distract drivers and create safety problems, she said.
The commission also discussed a highway study done by Alberta Transportation a number of years ago that suggested highway displays should only be allowed in communities along the highway.
Commission chairman Councillor George Gehrke asked staff to send a letter to the province clarifying what its stance is on highway advertising and other displays.