County resident sounds off

Richard Froese
South Peace News

Industrial camps and recreational vehicle storage facilities will now be allowed in Big Lakes County.
At its regular meeting March 28, 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, no submissions either in favour or opposed to the proposed amendment were received,” says Pat Olansky, director of planning and development.
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.
Williscroft strongly expressed concern with the county over the matter, other bylaws and enforcement.
“Putting absurd bylaws in place is discouraging newcomers and land holders from investing in our county,” Williscroft says.
“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 land holders’ affairs.
“Private land holders 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].”
He further suggests the county buy land they want to control.
“If the county 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 to do,” Williscroft says.
He further expresses concern about a $500 fee as part of the land-use bylaw application.
“What rubbish,” Williscroft states on the application form.
“Why would the county expect to collect a benefit off the land they don’t own?”
He includes a South Peace News story that reported the county’s decision to hire a bylaw enforcement officer
“What other bylaws are you dreaming up?” Williscroft asks.
“This is not Russia.”
Another story from South Peace News focuses on the county sending all nine council members and two staff to the Halifax for the convention of the Federation of Canadian Municipalities at a cost of about $60,000.
“Shouldn’t the ratepayers get a chance to vote on this?” Williscroft asks.
“What can you possibly bring back that would benefit the county?”
Regarding a storage facility, the bylaw permits one as a discretionary use within commercial recreation, hamlet commercial, hamlet industrial, highway commercial and rural industrial districts.
A storage facility would be strictly be used to store RVs and motor sport vehicles when not in use, the report says.

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