An expansion of Mountainview Mobile Park in Sparwood has been in the works for two years and council has approved the zoning bylaw.
The delay has been a result of issues with the Water Stewardship Branch (WSB) of the Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations.
Those issues include the fill deposit of a dike next to Michel Creek without WSB approval, the filling in of an unnamed tributary to Michel Creek and groundwater that bubbles up in the park.
“I’ve spent a lot of time, effort and money getting this [expansion] prepared, but I can’t get the zoning now because of this Water Stewardship issue,” said owner Rick Pater at the March 2 Sparwood council meeting. “Though it’s a problem, it’s not considered a high enough priority issue to the stewardship to actually address,” added Pater.
Coun. Lois Halko asked if the groundwater that surfaces at the park does so in the spring or if the issue is continuous.
“It bubbles up and goes through a trench and is diverted slightly when it dries up. But it is continuous throughout the year. It does go up a little bit in the spring, but there is no run off from the stream and it flows all the time,” responded Pater.
Pater argued he would like the zoning amendment to move forward now so that pads not directly affected by the water stewardship issues can be built, with the remainder constructed once the approval has been sent in.
Manager of Planning Nelson Wight brought this forward as one recommendation to council.
“There are only portions of the zone that are in dispute with the Water Stewardship Branch,” explained Nelson. “So one recommendation is that the zoning be adopted in order to permit the applicant to develop some of the site right away and allow the remainder of the site that is in dispute with the water stewardship branch to be resolved over time and then those areas can be built up.”
Coun. Jenna Jensen raised concerns on the potential approval of the variance permits.
“Are we sure that allowing this approval will not hold up or cause any problems with water stewardship? I want to ensure we’re not being irresponsible in any way by letting this go ahead,” said Jensen.
Wight responded, “I have been in constant communication with the water stewardship branch, I have notified them of our recommendation and our commitment to continue working with them to ensure the matter will be resolved.”
Coun. Joe Jarina argued for the commencement of the expansion.
“We should get the ball rolling, start cleaning things up, start landscaping. It’d be nice to get it going and get landscaping done,” said Jarina.
Both Jarina and Mayor Cal McDougall maintained that due to the proximity of the proposed property to the highway, attractive landscaping should be a priority.
“As it is one of the first things you see when coming into Sparwood, I think that all of us at the table want to make sure that the beautification process is done well as it is our first impression [of Sparwood],” said McDougall.
According to Wight, a condition of the zoning approval was a landscape plan and a security commitment, which Pater provided to the sum of $10,000.
Following council’s approval of the rezoning, Pater will now have to obtain a mobile home park permit in order to determine the actual layout and roadways of the mobile home spaces.
Wight said when that issue comes back to council he will advise then which spaces should go undeveloped due to the enforcement of the Water Act by the WSB.