Open house Saturday explores Buffalo Lake growth options

With room to develop 2,377 new residential lots on the south shore of Buffalo Lake, proposed options to direct growth are slated to be

With room to develop 2,377 new residential lots on the south shore of Buffalo Lake, proposed options to direct growth are slated to be presented at an open house this Saturday.

Property owners in the summer villages of Rochon Sands and White Sands have an opportunity to comment on the options during the open house at Rochon Sands Community Hall from 10 a.m. to noon.

“We will present some narrowed-down options that people will be welcomed to comment on,” said Johan van der Bank, director of planning and development for the County of Stettler.

The committee narrowed the plan down to two options from three after about 30 interested residents offered their ideas at a workshop June 23 for the Buffalo Lake South Shore Growth Node Statutory Plan for the three municipalities.

“We got some good comments and now the committee will consider how we want to proceed with the preferred option and timing,” said Rochon Sands Mayor Wayne Miller.

“The most important thing is the feedback that will have to recognized by the committee,” said White Sands Mayor Lorne Thurston.

While Option 2 would promote small lots, the greatest discussion and support appeared to be for the third option of a concept that would introduce the transfer of development credits (TDC) scheme that has just been introduced in Alberta, but is already popular in the U.S.

Under the scheme, all property owners would be given a number of credits, van der Bank said.

In order to build residential development, property owners would be required to purchase credits from the owners of the conservation areas.

“This is one tool available to municipalities to manage density,” van der Bank said.

“We should not shy away from the TDC because we haven’t tried it before.”

Conservation areas include space to preserve and protect land for scenic landscapes, agriculture and environment.

County Reeve Wayne Nixon supports the concept.

“It does have positives and it will benefit people who own land that is not developable, to help them make some money,” Nixon said.

With a two-month window in July and August when the summer villages are highly populated with residents, the planning committee is aiming to expedite the process before the end of the summer. Otherwise, it could be delayed until next summer.

For more information, phone the county office at 403-742-4411, or connect to the county website at stettlercounty.ca.