Committed to eliminating noxious weeds in the Town of Stettler, council has taken another step to ensure all priorities comply with provincial legislation.
At its regular meeting last week, council established an appeal panel under the Alberta Weed Control Act that allows property owners to appeal decisions by the local bylaw enforcement officer served by Alberta Animal and Municipal Enforcement Services.
That process comes with an appeal fee of $500 for anyone who plans to file a dispute.
If the applicant wins the appeal, that fee would be refunded.
“The province has set out a policy with a stringent deterrent, and we don’t have any authority to change that legislation,” said the town’s chief administrative officer, Rob Stoutenberg.
“This would avoid frivolous appeals,” Coun. Malcolm Fischer said after Coun. Al Campbell said the $500 fee was too steep.
Property owners are fined for allowing prohibited or noxious weeds — as stated in the Weed Control Act — to grow on their property.
With that fee, Stoutenberg doubts many, if any, residents would file an appeal to the panel.
To lead the way, council says it’s committed to eliminating those weeds on town property.
“We need to be a shining example with our town property, as a weed-free community,” said Mayor Dick Richards.
Councillors Darcy Bachman, Steve Wildeboer and Peter Simons were appointed to the five-member panel, while council has suggested two members of the Heartland Beautification Committee be appointed as members at large.
Committee chairman Rob Spencer was recommended by council, along with another member. Both will be approached to serve on the appeal panel.
Under the new weed control act, all municipalities are required to form an appeal board, council heard from bylaw officer Kevin Duval, who updated council on bylaw issues at a meeting earlier this month.
RICHARD FROESE, Independent reporter