Sturgeon County will hold a public hearing later this fall on a proposal to turn a farm between St. Albert and Morinville into a parking lot for up to 1,200 recreational vehicles.
County council voted 6-1 Aug. 23 in favour of first reading of a bylaw to rezone about 56 acres of farmland from agricultural to recreational vehicle storage (Coun. Matthew McLennan opposed).
The vote was unusual in that council voted 3-4 against first reading of this same bylaw on July 12 (councillors Jason Berry, Kristin Toms, and Neal Comeau in favour, Mayor Alanna Hnatiw and councillors Dan Derouin, Deanna Stang, and McLennan opposed). County administration later received legal advice to reconsider or ”renew” this refusal of first reading out of procedural fairness.
The lands concerned are north of Highway 37 and east of Range Road 251, planning and subdivision officer Jonathan Heemskerk told council. Most of the surrounding lands are farms, although there is an autobody shop and a small RV park nearby. The applicant hopes to host up to 1,200 RVs (recreational vehicles) on the site, which will feature a stormwater pond, sanitary dump station, vehicle turnaround, and a three-metre-high perimeter berm. The applicant has run a similar facility in Parkland County since 2018.
During the July 12 debate on this bylaw, councillors raised concerns about the park’s potential pollution from leaky vehicles and its use of farmland for non-agricultural purposes.
Toms said she was concerned about the vast number of RV park applications the county had received, and noted how there is already an RV park in this region.
“I don’t want the county turned into a parking lot, but I do believe we need to give opportunities to do business.”
Hnatiw said most of the county’s current RV lots are small and located on low-value agricultural land, unlike this one. The county recently approved the conversion of high-value farmland to other purposes around Villeneuve Airport, but did so because that conversion will create many long-term jobs — jobs an RV park would not create.
Comeau said there is, sadly, considerable need for RV storage space in Sturgeon County, and that council should leave the creation of RV parks up to the market.
Speaking Aug. 23, McLennan said this project goes against the county’s municipal development plan for this region as it will not position the county as an agricultural leader. (This area falls within neighbourhood C of the plan, which says lands here should “secure Sturgeon County’s position as an agricultural leader.)
The bylaw is set to go to a public hearing this September.