Lifestyle, not land use, is what really irked many of the opponents of a proposed adult-only alternative campground, believes the woman behind the project.
Red Deer County’s municipal planning commission on Tuesday turned down Raven Archer-Burgess’s application for a 20-site campground on 131 acres of her land a few kilometres west of Dickson.
About a dozen area residents spoke out against the proposal for Ravencrest Manor Estates, several arguing the adults-only nature of Archer-Burgess’s proposed recreation spot was inappropriate for an area with nearby families and young children.
Others had more routine worries, such as traffic, dust control and the impact of so many visitors on a small local lake.
A yet-unapproved music festival proposed for next month was also a source of concern for some residents.
Archer-Burgess said no one appears to have been bothered by what has gone on there in the past.
“For the last 11 years, I’ve been holding parties up here for my private LGBTQ family and kink family and nothing was said. There wasn’t one complaint, not one,” she said in an interview Thursday.
Ravencrest’s website is up front about what sort of clientele would find a welcoming getaway there.
“We are a closed-polyamorous leather/LGBTQ family of 420 friendly, sex positive, alternative lifestyle facilitators with over 20 years experience in our adult alternative lifestyle communities.”
In unanimously rejecting the application, the planning commission, which is comprised of all members of council, said the campground application did not meet land use bylaw regulations because there was no permanent residence on site and the property had been previously subdivided.
Several councillors emphasized they did not make their decision based on the lifestyle choices of Archer-Burgess, saying it was none of the planning commission’s business.
Archer-Burgess is not buying that explanation, saying relaxation to the rules has been allowed for others.
In a statement she posted on social media, she says: “we all know the real reason, the neighbours ALL complained about what we would be doing up here, which is not visible from any vantage point, unless they trespass or they are flying around taking pictures (like they tried to show at council).
“They tried using my lifestyle as a reason and comparing it to criminal activity. They don’t want my gay ass friends in their community.”
Plenty of people weighed in on social media when the story started making the rounds. Many of them questioning what the big deal was about Archer-Burgess’s plans and whose business it was to dictate what others do on their property.
“Pretty soon they will want to control who and when a person has for guests in their own home…” wrote one.
Archer-Burgess said in an interview she appreciated the support, but hasn’t decided if she will appeal.
“I’m just kind of taking it one day at a time.”
“Unless we have more support, there’s really not much I want to do. I don’t want to go too hard against the community, because I love my community.
“But I need to make a living and this is the only thing I can come up with now.”
She wasn’t planning to publicize her campground widely. By setting up a campground, she hoped that the groups who visit would not have to take out $500 event applications whenever they wanted to get together for a function.