Proposed Redesignation for Glamping Retreat Facility in Water Valley/Winchell Lake Area Defeated Following Public Concerns

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After receiving numerous objections from area residents and landowners, the council defeated a proposed land use bylaw redesignation for a luxury glamping retreat facility in the Water Valley/Winchell Lake (Alberta, Canada) rural neighborhood in Division 2.

As per a report, proposed changes included redesignating the land from agriculture district to a direct control district and amending the Water Valley/Winchell Lake area structure plan to change a portion from residential low-density to commercial recreational.

The Tranquility Base facility was planned to be located approximately 11.25 miles southwest from Cremona, south of Twp. Rd. 292 and west of Rge. Rd. 52, about three kilometers south of Water Valley and two kilometers west of the Water Valley Golf and Country Club, aimed to provide year-round glamping accommodations with seven family-style tents and 14 double occupancy suites.

The maximum occupancy of the facility was proposed to be 56 guests, with 11 employees.

However, over a dozen letters of objection were submitted during the redesignation process, citing concerns about the impact on wildlife and environment, aquifer, property values, noise and light pollution, local road network, and fire hazard potential.

One letter writer stated, “We have many apprehensions about this proposal, and we feel that many concerns need to be considered in the decision-making process. We feel that if this proposal is accepted by the county, it will negatively impact the quality of life of the current residents.”

During the public hearing, the applicant argued that the glamping facility would be a good fit for the area. Several area residents and landowners also spoke during the hearing, expressing concerns about emergency access, increased traffic, security, and fire hazards.

After the public hearing, council members expressed their opinions on the proposed redesignation. While some members supported the application, including Coun. Jennifer Lutz who noted some local support for the project, others were opposed.

Coun. Greg Harris, whose Division 2 includes the Water Valley/Winchell Lake area, stated, “The fact that we have a community that is universally united in opposition, I am unable to support this application.” Coun. Peggy Johnson expressed concerns about increased development in an environmentally sensitive area and Coun. Gord Krebs worried that glamping resorts would threaten the area’s rural lifestyle.

Reeve Angela Aalbers emphasized the need for caution in developing such areas and protecting the environment and wildlife corridors.

Ultimately, the council defeated the second reading of the proposed bylaw redesignation and Coun. Alan Miller, who did not attend the council meeting, did not cast a vote.

This decision reflects the growing concerns among some communities about the impact of glamping facilities on local environments and lifestyles.

Glamping, or glamorous camping, has gained popularity in recent years as a unique and upscale outdoor accommodation, attracting tourists seeking a luxury camping experience.

However, it also raises questions about the sustainability and compatibility of such facilities with rural areas’ natural and cultural surroundings.

As the demand for glamping continues to grow, it is expected that similar debates and decisions may arise in other parts of Canada where glamping owners or operators seek to establish or expand their facilities.

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