Lacombe County has offered its support in principle for a proposed 318-site RV park on Buffalo Lake.
The Bar W Resort would be developed on an 83-acre site between the summer villages of White Sands and Rochon Sands.
A development permit application has been submitted to the County of Stettler, which passed it on to Lacombe County for its input. The two counties and Camrose County and the two summer villages created the Buffalo Lake Intermunicipal Development Plan that guides development around the lake.
Lacombe County planners carefully reviewed the plan and noted several issues that could be addressed.
Lake access is one of the areas Lacombe County would like to see fleshed out better. So far, a required Major Public Access Plan has not been prepared, planners noted.
The RV park proposal does not include private or public boat access to the lake and has not identified beach access areas. The developers have indicated they intend to work with other boat launches in the area to ensure access.
“The Major Public Access Plan requires the points of public access to be identified, and if they are outside of the development the improvements the developer will be making to those access points,” says the review by county planner and development officer Natasha Wright. “This information has not been provided with the application.”
Coun. Brenda Knight, who chairs the Buffalo Lake Intermunicipal Development Plan Committee, said access could prove challenging. The banks of the shoreline near the proposed development are steep and an existing public boat access was badly damaged by ice. Ol MacDonalds Resort and Campground has a boat launch but a fee is charged.
Wright said going forward the developers will need to work with municipalities to identify where the access points will be.
Planners also pointed out that the proposed development is not serviced by a communal water system as required under the intermunicipal development plan. As well, a wetland impact assessment report does not contain any conservation or mitigation measures as required by policy.
Dale Freitag, county director of planning services, said the RV park proposal is close to meeting all requirements.
“We don’t feel we necessarily need to oppose, but they need to address a couple of things.”
Knight said the proposed development has come a long way from the contentious Paradise Shores RV Resort proposal. Originally planned as a 1,000-site RV report with waterpark it was later reduced to 750 in the face of community opposition. A development appeal board later reduced the number of lots to 168 in 2019 and the project stalled.
On an online site the developers acknowledged the project has a “long history.”
“The project is now under new direction. The developer is working with a new consulting team to alleviate previous concerns with the development and move the project forward.”
County of Stettler’s municipal planning commission is holding a special meeting with an opportunity for the public to speak on Aug. 31 at Stettler’s Community Hall on the Bar W Resort development permit application.