A huge RV resort development that has alarmed Sunbreaker Cove residents has been given a boost by Lacombe County.
After nearly 90 minutes of debate, council approved second reading by a 3-2 vote for Skyy Country Golf and RV Resort on Thursday.
The 423-lot project next to Sunbreaker Cove has been widely opposed by summer village residents, who fear that a huge influx of seasonal residents will overwhelm roads, facilities and boat launches.
County Reeve Terry Engen acknowledged the fears of residents but said the development would also provide a lot of benefit to the county. Council has already committed to find ways to improve boat access to the lake by expanding Sunbreaker Cove’s launch and exploring the potential of a Kuusamo Krest site.
“I think it can be accommodated,” he said of the growth that would be created by the resort.
Lance Dzaman, who is in charge of business development for Skyy Country, said the approval was significant.
“It’s a major hurdle that’s been cleared now,” he said. “Now the real detail work begins.”
Dzaman said he will continue to work to address the concerns and questions raised about the project and to demonstrate that it can fit in with the community.
Sunbreaker Cove Mayor Gib Clark was at the council meeting and was less optimistic that residents can be brought on side.
“No, not a chance. It’s too big. It will never be accepted by residents in the area.”
The first phase of the project would include about 150 lots and a par-three golf course. The project would eventually include a water park, swimming pool, playground, tennis courts and other sports fields.
Council wrestled with whether a resort of Skyy Country’s scale should go ahead without an area structure plan in place, which would provide an overall blueprint for future development around that part of Sylvan Lake.
Allan Williams, county manager of planning services, said a “fair level of criticism” had been voiced that the county was taking a short-sighted view of development around the lake.
“Many residents feel this particular proposal is too huge.”
Councillor Rod McDermand said Skyy Country was an example of why the county needed a long-range plan.
“We’re not addressing the big picture. We’re addressing these piecemeal.”
The county is at a “crossroads,” he suggested. “I think this is a bigger issue than this application.”
Councillor Keith Stephenson said one of the first questions he was asked when elected was whether the county had a plan for future growth.
“This is some of the highest value land in Alberta and we don’t have a plan. For future generations, we have to have a plan.”
For Councillor Cliff Soper, there were too many unanswered questions, especially concerning how water supplies, waste water disposal, traffic and other issues associated with a project of this size would be handled.
Soper and Stephenson voted against second reading. McDermand, Engen and Ken Wigmore voted in favour. Councillor Bill Knight was absent and Linda Landmark could not vote because she was not present during an earlier public hearing.