The County of Stettler council agreed to forgive most of the unpaid property taxes on a Buffalo Lake property that has previously received tax relief. The decision was made at the July 12 regular meeting of council.
On the agenda of the July 12 meeting was an item under the “in-camera delegation” section called “Bar W RV Resort Re: Tax forgiveness.”
In-camera is a term that’s also used to describe “closed session,” the private part of a municipal council meeting. Closed session items are usually accompanied by the section of the Government of Alberta FOIP law that explains why private deliberations were appropriate.
In this case FOIP section 25, disclosure harmful to the economic and other interests of a public body, was cited.
While the presentation may be made in-camera, according to the Municipal Government Act (MGA) councillors may not pass resolutions in closed session and must return to the public meeting to do so.
At about 10:30 a.m. councillors moved “in-camera” for the delegation and remained in that session for roughly 40 minutes before returning to the public meeting.
Coun. James Nibourg then made a motion to offer tax forgiveness to the owners of tax roll #581400 of 80 per cent for the years 2022 and 2023 for municipal property taxes plus forgiveness for all of the late penalties accrued.
It was noted by county staff the property owners remain responsible for provincial requisitions such as education tax on their property.
The motion passed by a 5 to 2 margin, Coun. Justin Stevens, who represents the area in question, and Coun. Dave Grover opposed.
While it was never stated who the owners of tax roll #581400 are, Bar W RV Ranch’s legal land description is listed as NE 20-40-20-W4M online in the summary of an open house held at the Stettler Community Hall April 19.
The site in question is located on Buffalo Lake’s south shore roughly halfway between Rochon Sands and White Sands.
The same summary noted, “The site is approximately 33.75 ha (83.4 acres) and is currently zoned Recreation Facility (RF) District.
“The development proposes 318 seasonal recreation vehicle (RV) stalls that would be used from May to October….We acknowledge that there has been a long history on this site.
“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. Public engagement is an important part of this process.”
The legal land description is the same one as Paradise Shores, an RV development that was initially conceived as a 1,000 lot project but by 2019 had a stop work order placed on it by the County of Stettler.
The stop work order dated May 18, 2019, contains the legal land description NE 20-40-20 W4M.
The owners of Paradise Shores in 2021 attended a County of Stettler council meeting to request tax forgiveness.
Keith Wilson and Doug Wilson of Paradise Shores appeared before council at their Nov. 10, 2021 regular meeting to discuss a “tax agreement,” and councillors moved “in-camera” to discuss the request.
After about 25 minutes councillors returned to the open meeting, where they unanimously agreed to enter into a tax agreement with the Wilsons that forgave county tax penalties with the Wilsons agreeing to pay $46,858.96 in property taxes.
By Stu Salkeld, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter
Original Published on Jul 20, 2023