Friday, 27 July 2018 10:11

City purchases land to maintain buffer zone at wastewater lagoon

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The City of Swift Current is purchasing 11.63 acres of land to maintain a buffer zone at one of the wastewater lagoons. 

Councillors approved a motion at a regular council meeting on July 16 for the City to purchase the land from Prairie Sun Enterprises Inc. at a cost of $125,000.

The motion authorized administration to sign a memorandum of agreement with Larry Van Orman, the president of Prairie Sun Enterprises Inc., for the purchase of eight parcels of land.

The City uses four lagoon cells as part of the wastewater treatment process. The lagoons and the wastewater treatment plant is located just east of Swift Current.

“We don’t want any development adjacent to the lagoons, so that in the future it doesn’t impair the city’s ability to operate the lagoons,” City Chief Administrative Officer Tim Marcus said after the meeting.

The provincial waterworks and sewage works regulations require a buffer zone of 300 metres between a lagoon and a commercial area or a single isolated residence. That buffer zone increases to 550 metres for a built-up residential area or institutional area.

“The buffer zone is no different than an airport where somebody moves close to an airport and complains about the noise of the planes,” he said. “This is to prevent residential and commercial operations being operated within that close proximity and then complaining about the lagoons, whether it’s the odour or whatever.”

Properties in this buffer zone can therefore not be used for any other purpose than agricultural activities.

The land that will be purchased by the City is located north of one of the lagoon cells along the Trans-Canada Highway.

Prairie Sun Enterprises Inc. submitted an application to the Rural Municipality of Swift Current No. 137 in 2014 for the subdivision of the land into seven lots and for a change of zoning to highway commercial.

The subdivision and the zoning was approved, which raised the possibility that the land could be developed.

“The province approved that development, and so then that individual would be allowed to develop that property,” Marcus explained. “By us purchasing it, then that takes that ability away. ... To make it simple, we just purchased the property for a fairly reasonable price and incorporated it into our adjoining properties and then that prevents anything from taking place.”

The purchase agreement includes the seven lots, consisting of 8.44 acres, as well as another surface parcel of 3.19 acres owned by Prairie Sun Enterprises Inc.

There is not any other land around the lagoon cells that can result in a similar situation for the City of Swift Current.

“That was the only piece that was an issue from the standpoint that it was zoned highway commercial and would allow for something,” he said. “The land was and always can be used for agricultural purposes and that is mainly what the land around the lagoon is used for at this point in time. So it’s not an issue.”

The purchase cost of the land will not be an additional expense on the City budget, but will be funded by the wastewater and solid waste utilities.

“Wastewater and solid waste utility will be covering it, because the 11.63 acres does have a stockpile of soil on it and the solid waste utility will be accessing that as cover,” he said. “So they will be paying for a portion of the purchase as well as the wastewater utility will pay for the other because that land is incorporated into the area that it operates with.”

 
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Matthew Liebenberg

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