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Council OK’s Campground for Rural Alberta Tract

June 20, 2011 by   - () Leave a Comment

After some sober second thoughts, the Yellowhead County Council has approved a 100-site campground/cottage/restaurant development for the Niton Junction, Alberta, area, the Edson Leader reported.

The campground approval for Tina and Mel Kozyra was given despite objections from local landowners. The landowners’ main concern was that the campground, located about 100 miles west of Edmonton, might become a magnet for all-terrain vehicle and snowmobile enthusiasts.

The Kozyras, who were present during the public hearing, said they would not allow all-terrain-vehicle use or snowmobiles on their property and that only BMX and mountain bike tracks would be allowed. But this did not convince one adjacent landowner.

Dirk Vanderkooi, who was the spokesperson for several landowners in the area, said all have experienced problems with ATV and snowmobile users, especially on Crown land. The Crown land is located three-quarters of a mile south of the Kozyras property.

Vanderkooi wasn’t convinced that the Kozyras could prevent eventual ATV and snowmobile encroachment.

“I see no way that they can restrict this noise pollution.”

Vanderkooi was concerned that increased ATV and snowmobile use would drive wildlife away from the area.

Area resident Elizabeth Webb had another concern, the loss of viable farmland to the proposed campground development. Tina Kozyra claimed the land was not good agriculturally, but Webb disagreed.

“To say this is not viable farmland is not true — we’ve rented this farmland for twenty years.”

Webb said police response is slow and that during a recent well blowout on the subject lands — it took two hours for authorities to arrive on the scene.

“There was 20 minutes of roaring and spewing (of product) from the well.”

PanTerra, the company that owns the well, has concerns about the campground development. The oil well has recently been reworked and could be brought into production in the near future, said PanTerra president and CEO Fred Rumak, in a letter to the council. He added the well may flow for a period of time then be put on pump jack. This could present a danger to children who would use the campground, he said.

“PanTerra would require the campground owner to have the pump jack and related facilities fenced in by an appropriate fence (chain link) of durable quality and required height, with a high quality padlock,” Rumak said.

Other councilors had these comments:

  • Division 1 – Evansburg and area Councilor Maxine Lappe said she looked on the campground development as a good way to discourage random camping — a problem that is increasing across the county.
  • Division 7 – Edson West Councilor Ruth Martin Williams was uneasy about giving third reading to the project — given the concerns voiced by nearby residents.
  • Division 3 –Niton Junction/Carrot Creek area Councilor Fred Priestley-Wright was also concerned.”I am nervous about this. I’m not comfortable that this [won’t necessarily be a staging area] for quads and snowmobiles.”He added the land to the south of the proposed development contained muskeg and would be sensitive to incursions by ATVs and snowmobiles.
  • Division 8 – Hinton/Cadomin/Robb area Councilor Lavone Olson agreed with Lappe that a campground such as this was needed. “I think we need more campgrounds as it controls random camping.”
  • Division 4 – Shiningbank/Peers area Councilor Brandon Depee agreed with Olson, adding that having a pump jack on the property wasn’t a big concern with him. Although Lappe said more organized campgrounds were needed in the county she admitted she was “struggling” with her decision, taking into account the concerns of neighbouring landowners.
  • “I think we have to go along with it and see if it works out,” said Div. 6 – Edson area Councilor David Stevens.
  • Division 5 – Wolf Creek/Pinedale area Councilor Shawn Berry agreed saying that ATV and snowmobile use is here to stay and that allowing the development to proceed would cut down on random camping.

Council gave third reading to the development changing the land use from rural district to low impact recreational district. One councillor voted against the proposal.

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