Albertans Pan RV Park Plans
What seemed like a simple request to expand a business unraveled several issues Sept. 2 at a public hearing at County Hall in Sherwood Park, Alberta.
Pat and Rick Hanneman were looking to expand the Elk Island Retreat’s existing facilities and bring an area used for tepee camping into compliance with bylaw requirements, according to the Sherwood Park News.
The camp was created for a weekend getaway for campers and a place where Boy Scouts could hold meetings.
The Hannemans submitted a biophysical assessment of the land with their application, which indicated expansion does not disturb the high priority environmental management area.
The couple applied to correct a zoning error caused by improper surveying.
Some residents said nearly 100 people live there, while the Hannemans said there are only 18 RV sites and the longest anyone has stayed at the campground was four to five months.
Pat Hanneman said there are workers that stay from two weeks to four to five months, but they leave for work early and go to bed early. She said most are men living alone.
(Sherwood Park, with a population of over 60,000, is an Edmonton suburb and is one of the fastest-growing cities in Canada. A roadway known as Refinery Row lies west of Sherwood Park and includes some of the largest industrial facilities in western Canada, including Esso's Strathcona Refinery.)
“We have had a couple trailers in our yard over the summer as well because of the tremendous need,” she said. She added the campground promotes peace and quiet and the workers follow that.
“They are not partiers.”
Rick Hanneman said there was a maximum of six overflow trailers currently, and they are applying to increase the grounds for 17 more RVs. He said his son is an environmental biologist who mapped out the trails and took into account environmental impact. He said there are no families that wandered out of the yard, and said he hoped the neighbors would consult him if they did.
Rick Hanneman said he cannot choose his customers, but the original groups visit for recreational purposes.
“I would hope any other concerns a neighbor has that they would approach that and we can deal with it as a neighbor,” he said.
Trisha Naundorf lives less than half a mile away from the campground and said it has gone from a camp for children to learn and grow to a camp for hundreds of plant and oil workers and their families.
“Playing children do not mix well with large farm animals and machinery,” Naundorf said.
She said people she didn’t invite on her property have stopped to feed her llamas and horses, which is a hazard to both the people and her livestock. She said she would approve the camp reverting to its recreational family campground.
Edwin Vrybloed lives a few miles from the site and his parents live across the road from the campground.
He said he has had to get off his tractor and pick up bottles and garbage and that people aren’t slowing down while driving in the area. He said people have used the road as a playground.
James Yankes lives north of the Elk Island Retreat and said the campground invites crime and vandalism. Once, Yanke said, a pick-up truck ripped through his freshly seeded field causing crop damage.
“The pick-up truck finished a joyride through the field when it finally got stuck in a slough,” Yanke said. He said his brother found two cases of empty beer in the truck and the Hannemans confirmed the man was staying at his camp.
Then came opposition from adjacent residents. The residents had approved a peaceful resort, and instead said they got a disruptive party spot used by constructions workers as housing.
Previously the campground was approved for 46 units and is classified as a minor campground. A minor campground can have a maximum of 60 sites.
At the end of the meeting, the Hannemans’ request was sent back to administration for further review.