RM McKillop Meeting Highlights - April 13 2021

·14 min read

Council for the RM of McKillop met over Zoom for their regular meeting on April 13th. The meeting had a healthy amount of debate with different viewpoints expressed on several different agenda items.

Recommendations that originate in committee meetings are brought forward to the regular council meeting for discussion and potential motions.

The committee recommended the RM amend the zoning bylaw to restrict the size of sea cans and truck bodies/boxes to 20 feet in length and that they must be aesthetically pleasing and complementary to the site and area.

During the discussion, Councillors Romanyk and Whitrow both said they had received a significant amount of feedback that the Council should not allow sea cans and truck boxes.

Councillor Labatte said the ratepayers in her district also do not want any sea cans. She brought up a survey conducted in 2018 where 53% said sea cans could be used as permanent storage in the RM but only in agricultural; and commercial areas. 69% said they could be used as temporary storage. Of those, 42% said during a valid building permit, 33% said one year or less.

Reeve Bob Schmidt provided information from his research from the Province and advisory from the City of Regina Planning and Development. Schmidt summarized that if sea cans are used for their intended purposes, it would have to be short-term. If they are used as a shed, living spaces, or accessory buildings, there would need to be a significant amount of work and permitting. Schmidt recommended that sea cans be included in the surveys as part of the strategic planning consultation process to assess the consensus among ratepayers.

Schmidt also provided sea-can regulations from the RM of Meota zoning bylaw. He said Meota only allows in agricultural and commercial areas and has a general penalty bylaw.

Councillor Dixon said that it comes back to enforcement and a fine schedule as he said he didn’t feel as though they could go onto someone’s land to remove a sea-can without permission. Noting the only reason they can go onto someone’s property is for inspection purposes. He questioned how they would enforce a potential bylaw. Dixon said the planning and development committee felt it was best to allow sea cans with controls such as a nuisance bylaw with an attached fine schedule.

Councillor Whitrow said they could allow them but put a $10,000 because once you put a permit fee and a fine attached, it would discourage sea cans. There was some debate between Dixon and Whitrow. It appeared as though there had been a lack of enforcement on some other bylaw matters. Councillor Dixon said that attaching a fine schedule would rectify that.

Councillor Whitrow addressed the instances where people have ag land without buildings and may need storage containers, and that should be taken into consideration by the Council.

The Council allowed the recommendation to stand but deferred it.

The committee recommended the RM amend the zoning bylaw and maps to provide more clarity in identifying Sunset Resort, Collingwood Lakeshore Estates, Green Acres, Shoreline and Heritage Valley be zoned as LS1 and that the remaining lakeshore development be zoned as LS2. There was no discussion on this item. Reeve Schmidt said the purpose was to clean up issues in the zoning bylaw. Council passed a motion as recommended.

The committee reviewed the application in a closed session. The application was not included on the agenda but was available for the Council to review. The committee recommended that the RM refuse to accept another application on this matter as the RM continues with its strategic plan process, including land development.

Councillor Dixon said the RM needs to advise the owner of the environmental reviews, slope stability and geotechnical requirements. Dixon said he did not want to rush into this.

Councillor Gilbert drew the Council’s attention to putting many people into a small area and the environmental impact that would create. Councillor Whitrow said he didn’t want to use that as an excuse because the land had already been approved for 129 more lots which would’ve been built had the previous owners not ran out of money. Reeve Schmidt added the quarter is divided into four separate parcels, each being approximately 15 hectares. Councillor Dixon suggested there should also be a draft service agreement in place before proceeding.

CAO, Brandi Morissette recommended Council proceed to public consultation. Council passed a motion to deny the application and let the strategic plan consultation process continue with a further review of the land to determine whether it will be handled as a discretionary use application or if the RM will place additional requirements on it.

The committee recommended that the Council review the zoning bylaw to clarify any conflicts regarding accessory uses and that further amendments be made once identified. Reeve Schmidt explained that accessory uses are accessories to the permitted uses such as sheds, garages, shops. The question that has arisen is how can an accessory use be on a lot before a permitted residence. Council passed the motion as recommended.

The Sun Dale Water and sewer report indicated that the community association is deciding the best course of action to deal with repairs to their grinder pumps. They asked if they could have ones in the plant and were referred to the RM office and Council. The explanation for why they couldn’t have a curb key is because the valves belong to the RM, and only those authorized by the RM should be opening and closing the valves.

The CAO reported they have made the road speed signage a top priority. There was some concern among the Council as to the length of time the process was taking. Administration staff said the company where they had initially sent the proof had been very slow to respond, and the responses had not been satisfactory. Because of this, the admin staff had reached out to another company to get some better service.

Councillor Bill McKenzie appeared upset when he thought that Administration did not inform the Council they had reached out to another sign provider. He said he had a large division and felt he was not being let in on what is happening. The staff apologized, explaining she took the actions because she understood it to be time-sensitive. The staff further clarified they had spoken to the Reeve about the first proof they had received and that he had agreed with the recommended changes.

The CAO asked that the process not be micromanaged as it is an administrative function they should manage. Councillor McKenzie said he wasn’t aware they had reached out to the Reeve and said he just wanted it done. Councillor Whitrow said he did remember the discussion around the wording of the sign and agreed that the Council shouldn’t be micromanaging the Administration. Councillor McKenzie snipped back, “well that’s your opinion,” and councillor Whitrow responded, “yeah it is.”

The RM received the Saskatchewan Wildlife’s endorsements from the submitted expressions of interest. The RM picked Steve Mazurak- Mayor of Pelican Point, Stan Wilcox and Naomi Griffin. The names will be sent back to Sask Wildlife for their approval.

A ratepayer sent in a request to the Council regarding the speed on a gravel road from Highway 322 (Silton) to Alta Vista. Councillor Whitrow supported the ratepayer’s request to slow down the speed on the section of the road because the dust created is making it difficult for the ratepayer to maintain his cattle. Whitrow noted that slowing the speed on the road will help the RM maintain the gravel, which would cut down on the RM’s costs.

There was discussion regarding possible pushback with reducing the speed; however, Whitrow pointed out it wouldn’t be different from other speed reductions the RM has introduced. He added the road is also travelled by people walking and cycling in the summer and felt it was a great idea to reduce the speed. Council passed the motion to reduce the speed.

The CAO provided information regarding All-Net Connect, which the Council approved at the April 1st special meeting. The program comes at a cost to taxpayers at $3995 a year.

Morissette explained it is one central portal the RM can manage communication messages to ratepayers over multiple platforms such as social media, text messages, phone and email. The Reeve said specific areas could be identified where the RM wants to send communications. Councillor Dixon said the key would be to get ratepayers to supply their information to the RM and that without providing the information, they couldn’t expect to get the information.

The CAO gave an example that if the RM received a discretionary use application that only affected a specific area, the ratepayers would be pinpointed who would need to receive the notice. However, she also noted legislation requires they advertise for specific reasons in the local paper, and the service would not replace that but be an enhancement. Council passed a motion approving the communication platform.

ASL Paving requested approval for a detour for a culvert installation. The Ministry of Highways requested the RM’s approval before the Ministry’s final approval. Reeve Schmidt explained the route, saying it was a regular detour with no issues and it would be over four days. The representative from ASL said they would inform the RM in advance of when it would take place. Council approved the detour.

There was a significant amount of debate on a previously denied application from a property owner for a temporary portable washroom not permanently attached to a septic tank. The owner made the application because they understood they could not attach their trailer to a septic tank based on how the bylaw was written. She proposed a temporary portable bathroom under 100 square feet that would accommodate their family of five. It would not be permanently attached to a septic tank and would be used while they stay in their travel trailer until they can build a cottage, at which time they would remove the portable bathroom. The CAO recommended approval with conditions that the building remain portable and temporary, not connect to the septic tank.

Councillor Romanyk was supportive. Councillor Dixon dissected the accompanying bylaws, voicing his opposition. Dixon said he felt that these types of buildings would pop up if they were approved. He said ratepayers told him they would build one for the windsurfers, and the intent was not to be used for their family. Councillor Labatte was also opposed.

The CAO said the issue at hand for the Council to decide if it’s a discretionary use and if it’s permitted. The Reeve recommended the matter be sent to the community planning consultant for advice because it conflicted with the trailer bylaw, which wouldn’t allow it.

Councillor Gilbert said he had contacted the Department of Health in Saskatoon that licenses septic tanks. He said their interpretation of a physical connection to a septic tank is glued or welded pipe to the tank that cannot be dislodged. He further said the Department of Health allows people to use hoses. Councillor Gilbert was in favour of this because without it could create other waste disposal issues.

Reeve Schmidt said that septic haulers could drain tanks from trailers. He added that the RM’s bylaw currently says that septic tanks cannot be installed on empty lots until a permanent residence is in place.

Councillor Whitrow was opposed to allowing what he saw as a second washroom. Councillor McKenzie noted that it was possible underground tanks had been allowed previously so as not to have sewer trucks having to haul constantly.

The debate then changed after Councillor Gilbert suggested finding out why the applicant felt their trailer couldn’t accommodate their needs. Council then invited the applicant to speak on the matter.

She said their family of 5 is excited to develop at the lake. While they are planning on building, she said they would like to enjoy the use of the lot by using a trailer while they save up for their cottage. Her family has a 1971 Airstream trailer with tiny original tanks that wouldn’t accommodate five people for two weeks. They would need to have a sewer truck empty the tank every 2/3 days, which she said wasn’t very appealing with the odours associated. It would be cleaner than a port-a-potty and only temporary until they build their cabin and would sell it. They do not plan on staying in their trailer long term as they want to build. After researching, she felt this was an ideal solution.

Councillor Gilbert asked the applicant why she couldn’t park the trailer near the septic tank and run a hose to it, which could be emptied periodically. She said she understood that it wasn’t allowed and that there were environmental hazards with the constant connecting and disconnecting of a hose. The applicant said they were willing to work with the Council and ensure they did everything correctly and asked their options.

Councillor Whitrow said while he appreciated the applicant’s position, he was concerned about the precedent it would set. The applicant said she understood his concern and would be willing to sign an agreement that they would agree to remove it in the same time frame as the trailer.

She also noted that while a trailer is allowed on the lots, there should be consideration put to other ways to deal with waste other than having a sewage truck coming every other day as the only option.

Reeve Schmidt agreed that the Council needs to look at options that will make it easier for people to bring out their trailers. He said the wording in the zoning bylaw might need to be amended, but Council should resolve the matter as it will continue to keep coming up.

Councillor Dixon said he was concerned about where it would stop as there would be no ability to enforce the outdoor washrooms as it could create year-round outdoor washrooms. The administration staff said that Councillor Dixon was talking about was permanent, and the applicant was asking for temporary.

Councillor Romanyk said he was concerned because trailers use a hose to dump grey water onto the property.

The CAO said this came to Council a second time because it hadn’t received the attention it deserved as Council initially denied it based on the zoning bylaw. However, the CAO noted that the RM’s zoning bylaw says explicitly that a trailer cannot be “connected” to a septic tank. Not permanently or temporarily.

Councillor Gilbert said the RM needs to be welcoming and saying that they want them here; he felt that Council was not doing that. Gilbert supported revisiting the bylaw to change it.

Council decided to leave the original motion in place and not allow a separate washroom to be hooked up to a septic tank. They are planning on revisiting this issue by gathering information and potentially sending it to a committee.

At an open forum for the second time during a Council meeting, a councillor wanted gallery members to have their videos on so Council could see the person. RM of McKillop councillors will choose to leave their cameras turned on. At other RM meetings, some councillors have their cameras on, and some don’t. There is no requirement for video cameras to be on at meetings, for gallery or Council.

Three people asked for live streaming or uploading recorded meetings; former RM councillors Rudy and Olga Thompson and ratepayer Leandra Cameron. Recorded meetings would allow the public to view the meetings and be involved in the process. Rudy Thompson gave an example the city of Weyburn has a system that works well. Reeve Schmidt said he knew that cities have live streaming; however, he could only find one other RM that does it sporadically.

Former Councillor Olga Thomspon said she would like the Council to revisit how the Planning and Development meetings are conducted as allowing people to speak would enable them to voice their thoughts on how things should proceed.

Thompson also wanted to remind people that boat launches are all considered public whether they live in the area or not. She said she would like to see signs removed that discourage the use of the boat launches and instead would like to see signs that encourage people to come and enjoy the playgrounds and amenities the taxpayers of McKillop have funded.

Thomspon further said there had been a resolution when she had been on Council that the RM would place a sign at Fox’s point, which still has not been done. The sign would warn people who were not familiar with Fox’s point of the steep drop-offs. She urged the Council to put up the sign as soon as possible because she said the death that occurred there when she was on Council still bothers her.

The next meeting of Council is April 27th at 9 am over Zoom.

Jennifer Argue, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Last Mountain Times