Fuel depot queried

Red Deer County officials are balking at the idea of letting a bulk fuel depot alongside Hwy 2 expand to what county staff call a tank farm.

Red Deer County officials are balking at the idea of letting a bulk fuel depot alongside Hwy 2 expand to what county staff call a tank farm.

On Tuesday morning, officials from Federated Co-operatives Ltd. in Saskatoon appeared before the county’s Municipal Planning Commission to defend their plans. It wants to place 20 new fuel storage tanks on the site, covering approximately 15,000 square feet in total. The site currently holds nine tanks.

In their report to the MPC, county planning staff raised a number of issues with the proposal, including concerns about its impact on future development at the site. Located southwest of Hwy 42 overpass, the land is considered to have high value as a future site for commercial development because of its high visibility and easy access.

In addition, the planning report defines the proposed expansion as major oilfield service or supply business, which is not a permitted use in areas zoned for agriculture.

Planners also said the proposal now before MPC describes a significantly larger expansion than what council and staff had been expecting. The county had passed a bylaw amendment to allow a small expansion of the agricultural supply depot, says the report, read into the record by Cynthia Cvik, planning and development services director.

“However, a development of the proposed nature would be classified as a tank farm and fall under the definition of Oilfield Service or Business Supply Major,” Cvik read from the report.

Contrary to comments in the staff report, Federated Co-operatives has been up front from the start about its plans for the site, located southwest of the Hwy 42 overpass, said Dave Turk, the company’s petroleum operations supervisor.

But the MPC finds itself trying to pull away from the horns of a dilemma.

One one side, members support an expanded and improved bulk depot that secures fuel supplies for local farmers.

Eight-seven per cent of the fuel stored at the site is distributed to farms, with the balance used to supply Co-op and Tempo gas stations, said Turk.

Because Co-op has its own refinery in Regina, its customers have not been faced with the fuel supply shortages such as the plant failure at Fort Saskatchewan that cut off diesel supplies during harvest last fall, he said.

On the other side, those same members are concerned that expansion at the current site could interfere with commercial development at the site.

After considerable discussion, members agreed to postpone their decision on the expansion to allow county and Co-op officials more time to reach an agreement.

Among the suggestions, MPC offered to look at a time-limited approval. That would allow Co-op to put new tanks on the site with the understanding that they would have to be removed after a period of five to 15 years.

bkossowan@bprda.wpengine.com

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