County of Stettler is unsure of Buffalo Lake RV Resort developers’ intentions or ownership

Leaseholders allege Buffalo Lake RV Resort development has possibly gone into foreclosure

By Jessica Jones

For the Stettler Independent

Leaseholders of the RV resort along the south shore of Buffalo Lake have been dealt another blow after learning that the property, formerly known as Paradise Shores, could be going into foreclosure.

The County of Settler has not officially been informed of the foreclosure, or the details of what it would mean for leaseholders, explained Niki Thorsteinsson, County of Stettler director of communications.

She did note, however, that the County was aware that foreclosure was, “One of the options being investigated” by the developer when complications arose around an amendment to increase the density of 168 RV units to 325.

“Earlier in the spring we noticed unofficial information circulating on social media regarding the foreclosure,” Thorsteinsson said.

“Last fall the developer indicated they could not operate the former Paradise Shores property with the reduced density of 168 units.

“The developer never stated they were considering foreclosure, as we were still working towards trying to increase the density of the site to 325 units; however, as business people, we understood foreclosure would be a possibility,” she added.

Thorsteinsson says that the County of Stettler empathizes and understands the leaseholders’ frustrations, but added that the matter, “May be before the courts,” and that it would not “be appropriate” for the County to make further comment regarding the foreclosure.

Leaseholders’ frustration

Leaseholders notified the Province of their frustrations regarding the intermunicipal dispute that arose last February between the County of Stettler, the Summer Village of White Sands and the Summer Village of Rochon Sands after the amendment to the Buffalo Lake South Shore Intermunicipal Development Plan (BLSSIDP), that would allow for the increase of density, was shot down.

In a response letter to a leaseholder, dated June 29th, 2020, Minister of Municipal Affairs Kaycee Madu expressed sympathy regarding the situation but ultimately stated that land use planning is up to the membered municipalities.

“I understand your frustrations with the intermunicipal dispute, and I genuinely sympathize with you and other families who have been caught up in this unfortunate situation,” Madu wrote. “However, as a Minister of the Crown, I am obligated to respect and uphold the laws of Alberta under the Municipal Government Act. Municipalities have authority over local land use planning,” he stated.

It was previously reported that a leaseholder paid $40,000 to lease a site from the former Paradise Shores development.

Municipal dispute resolution continues

The dispute resolution process between the membered municipalities, as well as the plans to conduct a major review of the BLSSIDP, is still ongoing, according to the County of Stettler.

Thorsteinsson explained that the Summer Village of Rochon Sands had agreed to the amendment to the BLSSIDP to allow 325 units on the site, but the Summer Village of White Sands was opposed.

“The next step in the dispute resolution process is for a mediator from Municipal Affairs to come and meet with the three membered municipalities and determine if our differences can be rectified,” she said.

A full review of the BLSSIDP could take up to two years to complete once it has started.

The County of Stettler will continue to pursue the density increase to allow for 325 units even though ownership of the site is unclear.

“The fact that there are developed campsites with water and sewer hook ups on this property remains,” Thorsteinsson said.

“To not do so would devalue this property for its potential future development,” she added.

Stop-work order still in place

Many leased sites have not been utilized for two summer seasons after a stop-work order surrounding the property issued in the early summer of 2019 caused the removal of RVs.

According to the County of Stettler, conditions were not met by the developer and some are still outstanding and need to be brought into compliance, but by whom, that remains unclear.

“Until the courts determine the future ownership of this site, then the future owners determine their future intentions for this site, we are on hold,” Thorsteinsson said.

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