Jarvis Bay proposal ruffles feathers

Residents of Sylvan Lake and the Summer Village of Jarvis Bay voiced their concerns Saturday that land designated as a natural preservation area could soon be used for the Twin Fawn Development.

Residents of Sylvan Lake and the Summer Village of Jarvis Bay voiced their concerns Saturday that land designated as a natural preservation area could soon be used for the Twin Fawn Development.

A portion of the 15-lot development in the Summer Village of Jarvis Bay is in a section of land that was designated as a natural preservation area in 1998. The Summer Village of Jarvis Bay council held a public hearing on the development between 10 a.m. and 1 p.m. on Saturday at Fox Run School Saturday that drew 60 to 70 people dressed in khaki shorts, flip-flops and deck shoes.

The public hearing looked at amending the municipal development plan to change the natural preservation area to long-term residential growth area.

It also looked at amending the land use bylaw to change the property from urban reserve district (land reserved for future development) to its own Twin Fawn Residential District.

Dr. René Weber has a seasonal residence in Jarvis Bay and he is opposed to the changes being proposed. He said the particular parcel of land was zoned a particular way for good reasons and those reasons still exist.

“It is time that we as a society start to value the environment over concrete monster houses and pavement,” Weber said.

He said the wetlands that have been destroyed on the site should be restored or the loss will have a massive impact on the quality of the lake and the quality of life in the area.

The location is known as an important spawning area for pike. A creek that passes through the development and land on either side of the creek has been sold to Alberta Environment. The proposed development has a 30 metre area in front of each lakefront property, made up of a 15-metre environmental reserve and a 15-metre environmental easement.

Weber said the proposed environmental reserve and easement is totally inadequate. “It’s high time we take a firm stand and draw a line in the sand and deny the rezoning of this protected area.”

Jarvis Bay resident Chris Beaumont was concerned about the access owners of the land will have to Sylvan Lake through the environmental reserve and environmental easement. He said if they are allowed access to the lake through those areas, dragging canoes and other things through the area, then the environmentally sensitive location will be destroyed.

Jim Jardine, with Trilliant Real Estate Group, spoke on behalf of the Twin Fawn property developers Glenn Hockley and Rick Fletcher.

He said the developers first looked at having a 19-lot site, but in consultation with the public determined a 15-lot site would better suit the development. The current plan would have 13 lakefront properties and two back lots that would have their own individual wells, but tie in the sanitary sewer close by.

Jardine said the land has been slated as urban reserve, which is land for future development, since the 1980s. He said a plan for developing the land, by a different owner in the 1990s, proposed a 24-lot site with much smaller environmental reserves of just six metres on the lakefront.

The developers have had a traffic impact assessment, geotechnical investigation, a groundwater study, stormwater report and environmental review done on the site between 2003 and 2007. Besides the environmental reserve and easement, the developers plan to ensure that stormwater drains off the lots into the roadway rather than into the lake and will build a bridge over the creek rather than a culvert so the channel won’t be affected.

Jardine said the best stewards of the lake are lakefront property owners.

Rick Rathier, with the Jarvis Bay Residents Group, said the Summer Village of Jarvis Bay zoning bylaws and municipal development plan must be followed and the Twin Fawn development does not comply with either. The municipal development plan sets out the broad land use policies that guide future growth and development in the community. The land use bylaws are used to implement the municipal development plan policies.

Rathier said the motion being put forward ignores the fact that the property was designated as a natural preservation area with the intent of preserving it.

He said the only obvious benefit of the development is a financial one, with an increased tax base. However, he questioned the need for that with the finances being strong in the community.

Sylvan Lake Mayor Susan Samson said the Town of Sylvan Lake recognizes that it has tampered, altered and completely urbanized the shoreline in the town’s area of the watershed, but practices that were acceptable in the past are no longer contemplated now.

She said in the past stormwater would run into Sylvan Lake and she remembers 15 years ago earth movers and graders going onto the beach to rebuild it in a way that would never happen now. She said millions have been spent to divert stormwater from Lakeshore Drive, the town has reduced fertilizers and herbicides and road salts to protect the lake. “As a town we cannot change the past, but we can certainly go forward with better development practices,” she said.

Summer Village of Jarvis Bay mayor Annabelle Wiseman, councillors Bart Dyrland and Gwen Ferrey and CAO Myra Reiter were all in attendance. None of the Jarvis Bay council members are able to speak about the issue until it comes up at the next council meeting.