‘Keep your noses out of land-holders’ affairs,’ says county resident

Richard Froese
For the Lakeside Leader

Industrial camps and recreational vehicle storage facilities will now be allowed in Big Lakes County.
At its March 28 meeting, county council adopted a land-use bylaw amendment to permit industrial camps as a discretionary use, following a quiet public hearing.
“As of the writing date of this report,” said county planning and development director Pat Olansky in a written report for council, “no submissions were received.”
However, at the meeting, council received a sealed envelope from Gerry Williscroft, who owns land south of High Prairie. Williscroft has allowed Dale Giroux to locate a temporary winter camp on his land, as stated on the county application to amend the land-use bylaw. In the letter, Williscroft strongly expressed concern with the county over the matter, plus other bylaws and enforcement.
“Putting absurd bylaws in place is discouraging newcomers and landholders from investing in our county,” he said. “All ratepayers we have discussed these matters with have agreed that county councillors should keep their eyes on the roadways and their noses out of private landholders’ affairs.
“Private landholders have paid for their land, cleared the land at their own expense, farmed the land at their own expense and pay taxes on it each year. Therefore, the land does not belong to them (the county).”
Williscroft further suggests that the county buy land it wants to control.
“If the county truly wants to start dictating to ratepayers what they can or cannot do on their private land, perhaps they should be prepared to purchase the land at fair market value and do whatever the hell they want as part of the land-use bylaw.”
He further expressed concern about a $500 fee as part of the land-use bylaw application.
“What rubbish,” Williscroft stated on the application form. “Why would the county expect to collect a benefit off the land they don’t own?”
Williscroft included a South Peace News story that reported the county’s decision to hire a bylaw enforcement officer.
“What other bylaws are you dreaming up?” he asked. “This is not Russia.”
Another story from the South Peace News focuses on the county sending all nine council members and two staff members to Halifax for the convention of the Federation of Canadian Municipalities, at a cost of about $60,000. Williscroft had something to say about that as well.
“Shouldn’t the ratepayers get a chance to vote on this?” he asked. “What can you possibly bring back that would benefit the county?”

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