A business proposal to establish a ‘Bed and Bale’ campground and stable for people and horses in the Rabbit Lake area cleared a hurdle following approval of a zoning by-law amendment at the regular monthly city council meeting on Tuesday, Aug. 13. Council voted 4-3 in favour of changing the municipal official plan designation from ‘residential development area’ to ‘rural’.
The change is consistent with the application submitted by proponents Dave and Laura Loohuizen to develop their property as a commercial recreational facility.
The resolution to approve states the site specific permitted uses allowed under rural zoning include a “campground and resort” enabling use of the property as a ‘small farm and campground offering people traveling with horses short term accommodation’. Future development includes potential for cabins for a four season destination. Council previously deferred voting on the resolution in July pending review of information both in support of and against the initiative.
Coun. Sharon Smith spoke against approval, noting opposition by some neighbourhood residents who object to a commercial operation catering to horses and their owners in the area.
Smith unsuccessfully tabled a motion for further deferral of the vote, pending public consultation and receipt of detailed reports by city staff on potential impacts of the development.
Prior to the vote, Rabbit Lake Road resident Lillian Zvanovec reiterated her objections in a deputation to council. She maintained the development is inconsistent with the nature of the residential neighbourhood as well as the potential environmental impact on Rabbit Lake water quality and public trails due to horse manure.
Zvanovec also called on council to commission a five to 10 year study to provide base line information on nitrogen and phosphorus loading in water and soil in the area.
Coun. Kirsi Ralko favoured the application, noting that rezoning only addresses the private property owned by the Loohuizens.
Coun. Rory McMillan also favoured the application, adding that allowing horses on public trails or property in the area is a separate issue and subject to its own application that the city would address accordingly. He referred to a Ministry of Agriculture report which concluded, based on the review of information provided, a ‘nutrient management plan’ is not required as the property in question is of sufficient size to accommodate the proposed use.
Mayor Dan Reynard noted the Loohuizen’s application proceeded through the appropriate city property, planning and advisory committees where it was subject to public review and comment. The mayor acknowledged the concerns expressed by residents; however, he noted “conflicting information” regarding use of public property in conjunction with the development on private property is a separate issue.
Councillor Chris VanWelleghem also voted in favour of the resolution while Councillors Mort Goss and Andrew Poirier along with Smith voted against.