Second look needed, says Big Lakes council

Richard Froese
South Peace News

Big Lakes County may reconsider its plan to apply to purchase Crown land in Faust from the provincial government.

At its regular meeting March 27, council directed administration to provide more information to council about the proposed purchase of land subdivisions 11 and 12 of NW 11-73-11-W5 in Faust (PLS140028) in Faust in a government public land sale application (No. 140028).

The land is located north of Highway 2 on the east side of Faust.

Administration recommended a motion to initiate First Nations and Metis consultation to purchase the land.

Instead, council approved a motion by Reeve Tyler Airth to seek more information about the land and the process.

“We can try the application,” Airth said.

In the motion, council requested that administration obtain:
-Information from Alberta Transportation and Economic Corridors regarding their right-of- way within the north half of 11-73-11-W5.
-Information about availability of NE 11-73-11-W5 to purchase from the Government of Alberta.
-Information about the First Nation and Metis settlement consultation process.

Some on council question whether the consultation process would be time consuming and costly to the County.

The process set out by the government was quite simple when the County applied for the land about 10 years ago, Pat Olansky, director of community services and planning, told council.

“In 2013, it was a very straightforward process,” Olansky said.

“If it’s an onerous process, it will cost a lot of time for the County.”

Council approved a motion at its regular meeting Feb. 14 to not withdraw their application to buy the land.

Administration received a request Jan. 18 from Alberta Forestry and Parks for the County to withdraw its application to purchase the land as reported by Olansky.

“The previous consultation completed in 2013 is now out of date and was carried out in the scope of a land exchange, not a direct sale,” Olansky said.

“The first step is a pre-consultation assessment request.”

Consultation is a mandatory step to meet the administrative requirements needed to satisfy the Crown’s duty to consult.

Faust Councillor Robert Nygaard noted the County has plans to develop the land but doesn’t require all the space.

“We want it used as an industrial park,” he said.

“We don’t want the wetlands.”

Olansky replied the land is a possible location for economic development.

“Development of an industrial business park has been a long-term goal for the County and securing NW 11-73-11 W5 as a potential location was important to the County’s future growth and sustainability,” Olansky said.

Council was notified by Alberta Environment and Sustainable Resource Development in September 2014 the land would be offered for sale, she said.

On Oct. 7, 2014, the County submitted an application to Alberta Environment and Parks to acquire the quarter section offering one quarter of County-owned land in exchange.

Past councils supported plans to acquire the land for various reasons.

  • The land could be used for highway commercial development due to its proximity to Highway 2.
  • The land could be easily serviced.

Municipal water and sewer extend to the western boundary of the quarter.

  • At one time, the alignment of Highway 2 was situated through the quarter, which indicates the land would be suitable for development.

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