A property owner in the Summer Village of White Sands fears a new County of Stettler gate placed over a busy road may negatively impact summer villages at Buffalo Lake. ECA Review/Google MapsStu Salkeld, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

A property owner in the Summer Village of White Sands fears a new County of Stettler gate placed over a busy road may negatively impact summer villages at Buffalo Lake.

Andrew Bunting, a homeowner in White Sands, stated new construction on Bayview Street suggests a permanent barricade or gate is being placed by the County of Stettler over the road. 

Bunting stated in an interview with the ECA Review May 9, in which he noted he speaks only for himself as a concerned resident of White Sands, he’s seen two large metal posts with concrete anchors on Bayview Street and they appear to be posts for mounting a gate.

Bunting noted in the past the County of Stettler committed to leaving Bayview Street open as it’s an important firefighting and emergency access. 

Closing the road, stated Bunting, creates a safety issue for summer villages although after seeing the new posts bunting grudgingly accepted the road was closing.

Contacted May 9 by the ECA Review the County of Stettler confirmed a gate is being placed over Bayview Street. 

Manager of Municipal Services Andrew Brysiuk confirmed the municipality is installing a gate over Bayview Street west of White Sands, adding the road was built a few years ago as a secondary access. 

Brysiuk noted that the Land and Property Rights Tribunal, when hearing an appeal filed over BarW RV Resort’s campground development permit, ruled that, until an alternate paved access is completed, a gate must be placed on Bayview Street for traffic control purposes.

Brysiuk stated the gate will be clearly signed to inform the public, including BarW RV Resort guests, they are not permitted to pass through; however, he added that the gate will allow emergency service access.

Brysiuk also confirmed the original proposal for the gate did mention weekend closure only, but right now the County of Stettler will keep the gate closed seven days a week. Brysiuk noted if road improvements are completed the gate hours may be tweaked.

Bunting observed the County of Stettler built a good quality and popular paved walking path along Bayview Street to keep pedestrians off the road. However Bunting observed that pedestrians still walk on Bayview Street.

He also observed that by the May long weekend the new BarW RV Ranch campground is set to open on Buffalo Lake’s south shore and it’s likely the gate is a response to that development; BarW RV Ranch is located on the same property that the former Paradise Shores development was proposed on, with some of the same ownership.

Readers of the ECA Review know that the Paradise Shores development was controversial in the Buffalo Lake community for it’s many hundreds of lots that saw construction start before the campground was fully approved; Now, BarW was originally proposed at about 160 lots but then doubled to its current 314.

Bunting stated, as an interested resident of White Sands, he’s been keeping an eye on discussions around BarW RV Resort as he feels it will affect not only White Sands, but also Rochon Sands and the entire Buffalo Lake community; he pointed out that about six months ago the County of Stettler suggested if a gate was placed over Bayview Street it would be for weekends only, with the street left open during the week, an idea Bunting stated he came to terms with.

However, Bunting noted that if the gate is in place 24 hours a day, seven days a week not only will the safety hazard exist but campers at the new BarW RV Resort will use other roads and services, such as boat launches, beaches and other amenities, resulting in increased traffic in summer villages.

He further stated that, in his opinion, the campground shouldn’t have been boosted in size to 314 lots as the increased density, which Buffalo Lake cannot support, also boosts things like traffic and the trucking of sewage. “Development needs to be well thought out, well planned and in the best interest of the environment,” said Bunting.

Bunting conceded, though, that he feels BarW RV Resort will not shrink in size but suspects it will expand further.

BarW’s website states the campground is opening on May long weekend, 2024. When the County of Stettler’s Brysiuk was asked if BarW RV Resort will open that weekend he responded that the campground may not necessarily open then because there are conditions that must be met by the owner before the campground opens.

By Stu Salkeld, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

Original Published on May 16, 2024 at 11:07

This item reprinted with permission from   East Central Alberta Review   Coronation, Alberta

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