Original Published 11:33 May 20, 2022

By Stu Salkeld, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

Castor town council discussed a proposed new land use bylaw with some new rules, including development permits for fences and new rules for derelict vehicles. The discussion occurred at the May 9 regular meeting.

Town Chief Administrative Officer (CAO) Christopher Robblee presented councillors with the draft update to the town’s land use bylaw (LUB). 

Robblee stated he was not presenting the LUB bylaw for first reading but rather for councillors to review and discuss.

It was stated the next time the draft bylaw comes back will be for first reading.

The CAO noted the draft bylaw contains new zones and hence will be a more complicated document. 

“Land use is very, very specific,” said Robblee.

The CAO explained that just because the LUB is changed doesn’t mean every development in town has to change; existing developments don’t have to upgrade and only have to conform to the LUB that was in effect when said development was completed. 

However, everything new must conform to the new LUB.

Robblee stated council in the past spent a lot of time talking about making changes to the way fences and hedges are handled in Castor, including the fact that fences and hedges are separate things. Hence the LUB now proposes fences require a development permit.

Robblee stated that in Castor people tend to build fences and hedges too close to the edge of a lot, especially on corner lots which ultimately affects traffic sight lines.

Mayor Richard Elhard asked if the town has a power pole on public property too close to a corner, how would that be handled? Robblee answered the town would probably have to move the pole.

As councillors discussed fences, Robblee noted the proposed changes would not require a development permit for a replacement fence exactly the same size in exactly the same location. However, if it’s a different size and/or location, it would require a permit.

The councillors also discussed how derelict vehicles would be handled. 

Robblee clarified that vehicles parked in town that don’t have registration and insurance would be considered derelict and must be moved; however, he noted the town usually gives people a week to move the vehicle.

Councillors also spent time discussing how residential decks would be handled. 

The proposed LUB would allow a deck to extend 10 feet from the residence and not wrap around the structure. 

“Municipal Planning Commission has run into these issues before,” said Robblee. He explained the limitations on deck size are based on a few different reasons, including emergency access, building on top of the town utilities and curb appeal.

The proposed LUB would allow one garden shed per property without requiring a development permit; two or more would require a permit. That’s based on a 12 foot by 12 foot shed totalling 144 square feet. 

The CAO noted the town doesn’t distinguish between a permanent shed and non-permanent sheds.

The CAO noted Castor traditionally has relied on a complaint-driven process; that is, the town staff don’t look around town for infractions, they investigate complaints from the public about possible infractions.

During discussion councillors mentioned that the town office and council themselves may hear complaints from the public about some of the proposed changes.

After the discussion councillors pondered the best way to communicate with Castor residents about the proposed changes, including enforcement and public education.

Councillors passed a resolution to proceed with the draft LUB bylaw. It will return to a future meeting for more discussion.

This item reprinted with permission from East Central Alberta Review, Coronation, Alberta