Campground expansion completed without the proper permits

Richard Froese
South Peace News

A campground expansion completed without proper permits from Big Lakes County is facing the brunt of the law.

The owners of Hill N Hollow Campground [2013] Ltd. were ordered to return the area back to its original state by council at its May 25 meeting. Council approved a staff recommendation that Hill N Hollow must meet several requirements and decommission the unauthorized components within five years.

“The campground has expanded significantly and several cabins have been built or moved in without development permit approval, currently with 90 camping sites,” says Pat Olansky, director of planning and development.

Currently, the owner only has development permits for only 50-55 camping sites [approved in May 1995] and a caretaker’s residence [April 1999] and a Water Resources Act Permit for an existing boat launch on Strawberry Creek.

“I’m tending to be lenient with the owner and go with five years because he is willing to comply and he is,” Joussard Councillor Ed Podollan says.

Others agreed.

“We all want to work with them,” High Prairie East, Banana Belt Councillor Don Charrois says.

However one person argued the period of five years is too long.

“My concern is the precedent setting,” says Reeve Ken Matthews, who suggests the period be shortened to two years.

Previous owner Astle Holdings Ltd received a development permit for a 55-site recreation campground, Olansky says.
“This development was initially completed somewhat as approved, however, the area was subdivided in 2003 and the campground was redeveloped at the north end of the parcel nearer to Strawberry Creek. The developer did not apply for development permits when it was redeveloped.”

Hill N Hollow must:

– Submit a complete development application for all existing development outside the environmental reserve easement by June 30;

– Apply for all applicable safety codes permits for all existing development outside the easement by Oct. 31;

– Be informed by all development and structures within the environmental reserve easement area shall be removed over a time period of five years. As cabins and other structures are removed, the area shall be allowed to revert to natural vegetation; and as sites are vacated and all improvements removed, use of that area for camping shall cease immediately; and

– Comply with all enforcement orders issued by Alberta Environment and Parks concerning structures within the Crown bed and shore of Strawberry Creek.

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