Docks bylaw huge win for Canal Flats developer

Village of Canal Flats and land developer win big in bylaw allowing property owners to place docks in the water.

After years of uncertainty surrounding the land developments near Columbia Lake in the Village of Canal Flats, town council is moving forward on amending a bylaw to allow property owners to once again place docks in the water.

Amendment bylaw 45, as it’s known, was enacted in June 2008 by the Village of Canal Flats and mandated that no new docks were to be put in the lake by property owners. Any existing docks were allowed to remain in the water but were considered grandfathered.

This development caused problems for a number of property developers in the area such as Eagle’s Nest and Mike Vernon’s Painted Ridge subdivision. Vernon, owner of 391043 Alberta Ltd, has been working on his development since applying in 2005 but has hit a number of roadblocks along the way, one of the most notable ones being his inability to allow prospective property owners to put docks into the water.

“If I didn’t have docks, who’s going to want to own a water front piece of property and not allowed to have a boat or canoe out there?” he said. “The value of my properties would go down substantially.”

Vernon’s company provided a presentation to Council on September 14, 2015 regarding the letter he sent to Council a week earlier that laid out the problems and unfairness with the existing bylaw. He recommended that Council amend the bylaw to provide clarity on docks in the Columbia Lake and allow new docks to be put into the water to add additional revenue.

“I just asked for it to be more consistent and them to revisit it,” Vernon said. “Obviously my development will bring significant tax dollars to the municipality if they had docks.”

Council considered his viewpoints and brought in amendments to the bylaw to allow lakefront property owners to have docks on their property in addition to communal docks for properties in the subdivisions not located on the lake. These docks will conform to the Ministry of Environment’s standards and also fit within the parameters laid out in the Columbia Lake Shoreline Management Guidelines, which were established by the RDEK in 2010.

“It’s a huge win for me but it’s also a huge win for the tax base of the municipality,” Vernon said. “If we get starting to build places down there, hopefully I’ll start selling these and get building going, it’s going to employ people down there.”

Mayor Ute Juras echoed Vernon’s sentiment with the increased tax base and said that those who came to the public meetings on the change have been in full support of it.

The amendment is scheduled to be passed by Council at their next meeting on June 13.