Edmonton area family feels forced out of Pigeon Lake property
In the waning days of summer, Dean Oliver proudly shows off what is essentially a second home.
“This was all trees when we came here,” says Oliver, describing just over a hectare of land in the hamlet of Mulhurst Bay at Pigeon Lake.
The property has been in the family since 1979. On the day of our visit, the traditional set up is on display – there are several RVs on site.
“My sister here,” Oliver points in one direction.
“That’s mine,” Oliver says then motions to a fifth wheel and to the right of that, “another sister.”
“We use the property as a family retreat.”
Recently, the peace of the place was disrupted with a “letter in late August from the county.”
Oliver says it was about the land use bylaw for the property; something the family didn’t know even existed.
“And the bylaw, in a nutshell, says you can not use RVs for accommodation,” says Oliver.
At the offices of Wetaskiwin County No. 10, Reeve Kathy Rooyakkers explains the land is zoned country residential, meaning a permanent residence has to be built.
After complaints came forward, “that’s when we sent out bylaw out,” says Rooyakkers. “August of 2015, we did have a delegation that came forward.”
She acknowledges the county is being reactive, but adds there’s only two staff to monitor bylaws across the vast rural area.
Rooyakkers stresses the bylaws are in place for a reason saying, “in the middle of a residential [area], you wouldn’t build an industrial park.”
“We’re good neighbours to our neighbours,” says Oliver.
Still, Oliver has questions; mainly why the complaints have only come forward now. He points to several other landowners in the area who use the land like his family does.
He wonders if real estate speculation is playing a role, so families like his will move their RVs and sell the land.
“The county will get a lot more taxes as permanent dwellings get built on these lots, as people like us leave and this will become an oasis for people who have enough money to have a home at the lake,” says Oliver.
Oliver will have to have the RVs removed from his property by Oct.31, or face fines. But he and other affected property owners promise “to fight this.”
“We contacted lawyers.”
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