Alberta animal sanctuary speaks out after county denies business licence, volunteers

Click to play video: 'Alberta animal refuge faces uncertain future after business licence application rejected'
Alberta animal refuge faces uncertain future after business licence application rejected
WATCH: The future of a well-known animal refuge is uncertain after its business licence application was rejected. As Craig Momney reports, the Alice Sanctuary just east of Balzac, Alta., has been caring for animals for about seven years. – Mar 20, 2023

A local animal sanctuary is working on its appeal after a decision made by Wheatland County, Alta., saw its application for a business licence denied.

In January, The Alice Sanctuary, a registered charity located about 40 km east of Balzac which is responsible for the care of nearly 200 rescued and surrendered animals, applied for a Home Based Business Type 3 (HBB 3) permit.

According to Janneane Madill, the permit would have allowed the sanctuary to host 14 tours throughout the summer on its 118-acre land, as well as a Mother’s Day and post-Halloween pumpkin drop-off event.

However, she says the permit was denied, despite the filing coming on the advice of the county following a complaint from adjacent neighbours in regards to an incident involving a shared roadway and parking.

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“Which hadn’t happened since 2019,“ says Madill. “So we were a little bit befuddled by that. That’s where the permit started to be requested  and to work with county on how does a charitable organization fit.”

The Wheatland Municipal Planning commission met over the business licence on two occasions, the first on Feb. 14 and then again on March 14, when commissioners voted against permitting the licence by a vote of 3 to 2.

Madill says she felt blindsided after the commission also denied its volunteer program, which is an integral piece at the sanctuary that she feels the commission “slipped in” to the application process.

“That’s the frustration right now because even though that was not a part of the business permit application itself, since everybody should be allowed to have help to clean up their farm space, it was never something we figured would be a problem or an adversity or have an adverse effect on adjacent land usages,” she says.

The sanctuary will still be allowed to have friends and family help with maintaining the farm, however, Madill says she’s been advised to document whenever someone who isn’t with the sanctuary comes onto the property.

Wheatland County declined to speak with Global News on camera because they felt their “comments may affect the possible appeal process.”

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However, it did provide a statement which listed several reasons why the permit was denied.

That statement included the fact that the sanctuary “didn’t fall into the category of a business,” that “Tour groups and volunteers are not compatible with adjacent land uses,” as well as the “increase in traffic to the site would have a negative impact on adjacent land owners.”

There is no date for when The Alice Sanctuary will file its appeal which must be filed on or before April 4th.

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