A meeting held on Saturday, Aug. 13 could go a long way in determining if an expanded marina facility within the Summer Village of Parkland Beach at Gull Lake will stay at its current location or will have to be removed.
Despite blazing heat, a large group of concerned cabin and property owners at the lake turned out for the meeting to discuss a dispute that arose when it was discouvered that the expanded marina – operated by R.V. Heaven and Marina Ltd. had overstepped its boundaries over a land survey conducted in 1913 when the title read to the water’s edge. Since that time however the lake has both expanded and contracted.
When Parkland Beach was established in 1976, another survey was conducted but at the time the lake was at lower than normal levels and a new shoreline was determined which up until last Saturday’s meeting, caused a considerable amount of confusion and could ultimately lead to the removal of the expanded marina entirely.
“It’s a longstanding issue that we didn’t know who owned that land, so we finally had it surveyed and discouvered that, even into the water, we did own the land so that’s how this came about,” said Marilee Yakunin, administrator of the village.
Despite the dispute that could end up costing a substantial amount of money, Yakunin said cooler heads have prevailed throughout the entire process and complemented most all the cabin owners, the council and Wayne and Linda Danser, operators of the marina.
“There was never any dispute,” Yakunin said. “He (Danser) now knows the land didn’t belong to him, the government now knows it too, so we’re all on the same page. It took forever for council to figure out where we go from here, what we do, what the legal implications are – the whole bit.”
In a letter addressed to the village’s council, Danser said he went through all the proper channels and had all the necessary permits and paperwork in place – including purchasing a License of Occupation (LOC) from the province to the lake’s shoreline to expand his facility, and asked that the council consider lifting the village’s reserve designation on the parcel of land and either sell it or lease it to him.
“It has been brought to our attention that part of our new marina has been built on Parkland Beach’s public reserve land. R.V. Heaven bought the LOC’s from the Parkland Store and Clay Jones and then applied to the Alberta government for the lands in between,” Danser wrote in his letter.
In addition, Danser said he also advertised his intentions in the local newspaper on four different occasions, paid for a new survey and engineering out of his own pocket and had blue prints drawn up of the new facility.
“Then we sent all of that to Environment, Fish and Wildlife and the Oceans and Fisheries (federal) plus the Coast Guard,” Danser’s letter continued. “They all gave us the go ahead and issued permits for us to start. And after all of that we still ended up in the wrong place.”
On the other hand, Yakunin said that under the Municipal Government Act, there is a certain protocol that must be followed despite the fact that through the entire process, Danser has been more than cooperative.
“He could have made a big stink right from the get-go buy he’s been very decent and easy to work with,” she said. “Knowing that he really didn’t know what was going on at his end and he knew that I was just doing my job, we got along great.”
Yakunin said that during the dispute the village had an attorney draw up an indemnity agreement in case of any liability should an accident occur on the disputed land but was quick to add that all the parties involved would like to see the issue settled one way or another as soon as possible in light of the very unique situation.
“Some homeowners see him as being on that land illegally, so end of story,” Yakunin said. “But it’s not that cut and dried. Council has struggled very hard to get to this point and they should be commended. It was a big struggle to get to this point and there’s no way they would have wanted to make a decision without the input from the public.”
That input came as a result of the meeting where all concerned parties were allowed to submit letters or make public statements to the council and others.
Yakunin said the village’s council would now spend the next few weeks mulling over the public’s input on the issue and check out a few more legal matters before rendering a decision, which could come as soon as their next meeting scheduled for mid-September.
In the meantime, Danser said he is willing to work with both council and cabin and property owners to find an amicable solution.
“Unfortunately now we are in a position where we feel we have done our due diligence, and we still have a problem,” he wrote. “We are willing to work with the councilors to rectify this issue and we appreciate your assistance in allowing us to operate the marina for this season. We feel good communication can do nothing but help both of us to continue to be good neighbours.”
“There’s no dispute. There’s been a lot of misunderstanding throughout the whole history,” Yakunin added. “He was given poor information and we didn’t even know for sure but there’s been no pointing fingers here. There’s no way to put it on one person or one entity or even one date. It’s just been a series of events over time that led to this.”
Check future editions of the Rimbey Review for a follow-up and the council’s final decision.