COLD LAKE - Plans from city councillors to adjust land uses along the edge of Cold Lake have been held up, but councillors are still hoping to get their plan passed before the municipal election.
Last month, councillors voted to turn six parcels of municipal reserve land into environmental reserve. Municipal reserves don’t allow for any private land uses, so the change was needed in order to allow residents who live along the southwest side of the lake to keep using those lands for their own recreational purposes.
With that reserve designation changed, the next step is to pass bylaws setting out the new land uses for the environmental reserve lands. On Sept. 14, councillors passed the first reading of those bylaws. Another public hearing and two more readings are needed before the bylaws are fully passed.
Chief administrative officer Kevin Nagoya told councillors those final steps can’t happen until the provincial Land Titles office makes the designation change official. That can take several weeks.
“I’m anticipating that this is going to bridge (the time) between this council and the next council before we can get this finalized,” he said.
Even though the public hearing could happen after the municipal election, councillors decided to go ahead with the first readings of the bylaws. That’s because, if Land Titles does its part soon, there’s still a chance councillors could wrap this issue up at the 11th hour.
“We could theoretically try to turn around a quick public hearing, maybe before the election, to be able to have it finished,” Nagoya said.
Nagoya told councillors that if they decided to defer first reading, there would be no chance of holding a public hearing or giving the bylaws their final readings this term. Additionally, he noted that only councillors who have been at a public hearing can vote on second and third readings.
“My preference would be to hopefully have confidence in the public lands folks to get everything done,” said Mayor Craig Copeland, adding he doesn’t think it would be fair to the next council to saddle them with this issue.
Nagoya reminded councillors that when they voted to change the land designation on Aug. 24, they held robust public hearings at that time too. He estimated nearly 70 people had packed into council chambers for those hearings.
He said there has been overall community support for the change in designation.
Possible land uses
According to an administrative report in the council agenda, there are several possible land uses that the city wants to allow.
The report states that under the proposed bylaws, acceptable private uses could include portable docks or mooring structures, boat lifts, fire pits, patios, stairs and portable sheds.
“The listed uses were determined to be most aligned with the use of the lakeshore and (environmental reserve) lands for recreational purposes,” it stated.
In order to use the lands, land owners will need to sign a lease agreement with the city.
The cost of such an agreement isn’t yet known – Nagoya noted that will be a policy decision for council to make.