Subject: Is Joussard a destination recreational area?
It was with great disappointment this morning [June 10] that I watched a live stream of Big Lakes County councillors defeat a bylaw amendment we supported as the vote came in with a 4-4 tie.
The proposed amendment was to increase the number of allowable RVs to four from two on Communal Recreational zoned sites that were 2.5 acres in size or larger. This affected all sites at Southwest Shore Estates in Joussard as well as a small number of sites at Hilliard’s Bay.
We, at Southwest Shores, have invested a lot in this community with our sites costing upwards of $200,000 with infrastructure. Some have built cabins and invested well upward of $400,000. We all pay our considerable taxes on time and spend money not only in the Joussard area but High Prairie and Slave Lake and areas in-between. We are happy to support the local economy and do so willingly. This is part of what we and our families give back because we have fallen in love with what Joussard and area offers. We take pride in the hamlet and consider it our own as much as people that have lived their lives here. For many of us, it is our favourite place in this world.
I strongly feel that Big Lakes County councillors looked at the potential for a lot of rubber, steel and plastic RVs on our 78-acre development instead of looking at our loved ones who would be housed in those same RVs sharing our dreams of a lakeside retreat.
The councillors who voted no in this instance appeared to have done so flippantly while totally disregarding the facts.
It is fact that we are a 78-acre parcel consisting of 22 sites ranging between 2.5 to three acres. A councillor suggested we were only a 40-acre development. How can you reach that conclusion multiplying 22 sites by 2.5 acres? The math tells us that a site of 2.5 acres would allow for up to 0.6 acres per RV while the hamlet is in the area around 0.3 acre per RV. There is plenty of room for four RVs without any congestion whatsoever.
The development proudly sports over 10 acres of green space and a park with a playground for kids. Is it fair that these children are only welcome to visit on a day-trip and have to stay elsewhere instead of sharing our lives and dreams on a continual basis here at Southwest Shore?
Southwest Shores is not a rental campground as our own Condo Bylaws expressly forbid that type of activity. We only wish to enjoy our dreams with loved ones.
When Southwest Shore development was seeking approval for the initial build up to eight years ago the developer then suggested that each site needed approval for a family of four to live on it for the entire year. This was agreed to by Big Lakes County.
To date, Southwest Shore has one permanent family of two residing here year-round and there is no comparison to be made with the number of man-nights that our loved ones would stay. It’s a non-issue as our guests would be overnight visitors less than half the time that the family of four would have. There is no stressing of Joussard’s infrastructure as a result especially with the new water plant.
We are zoned Communal Recreational. What exactly is the significance of the recreational part of that if not to enjoy the recreation with family and other loved ones?
From an aesthetic perspective, allowing up to four RVs at Southwest Shores affects nobody but us and the few at Hilliard’s Bay and possibly future sites larger than 2.5 acres. It is what we want and Big Lakes County council is denying us our dreams.
Is Joussard a recreational destination or not?
Big Lakes County Reeve [and councillor for Joussard], Richard Simard is a progressive individual when it comes to the growth of Joussard. I fail to see the reasons why those who voted against this amendment feel otherwise.
Lastly, 17 of the 22 site owners signed a petition [only one owner dissented] supporting the change to four allowable RVs from two and this was presented to council, then totally ignored by the four councillors who voted negatively.
Why? We are mostly enclosed development surrounded by forest with only a few sites that can be seen through the trees from Peace River Avenue.
Is this really an esthetics issue for the County? Is our opinion irrelevant?