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Development rejected by RM with little fanfare

A development proposal for another man camp in the RM of Estevan was rejected by the RM council members last week. Following a public hearing Nov.

A development proposal for another man camp in the RM of Estevan was rejected by the RM council members last week.

Following a public hearing Nov. 13 regarding the proposal, the seven-member council decided not to permit the development by AA Estevan Lodge Inc. to move ahead with a proposal to install a 260-bed man camp off Highway 39 north of the weigh scales west of Estevan.

RM Reeve Kelly Lafrentz spoke with media after the decision, noting that the proposal wasn't compatible with what the municipality wanted done with the land.

Traffic was a primary concern brought up by some of the residents in the area who use the grid roads around the proposed man camp, and Lafrentz said that was also a concern of the council.

"The amount they would have to use our grid road network to have clients come and go from the camp - the way we looked at it, there were four miles of grid roads they had to take, versus going right onto the highway," he said.

Because the Ministry of Highways and Infrastructure wouldn't allow the developer to connect directly with Highway 39, it would have been up to the developer to build road access to the property from the grid road running north of the property. Some people at the meeting had concerns about allowing up to 260 more vehicles on the grid road, and what kind of traffic issues there may be with those vehicles running alongside the farm machinery that frequents the road.

Members of CP Rail were also on hand voicing concerns that traffic would also have to cross the rail line to get to Highway 39, adding upwards of 500 crossings per day at the intersection. That kind of added traffic may have required installation of warning lights at the rail crossing.

About 25 ratepayers attended the public hearing to voice their concerns and displeasure with the proposal. No one at the meeting voiced any endorsement of the proposal and the developer was not present to share their own information on how people's concerns would be dealt with by the company.

"We had pretty much 100 per cent objection to it going there from area acreages and some businesses in the area as well," said Lafrentz. "It wasn't like there was only a couple. All the ratepayers who have acreages and homes and businesses in the area didn't want to see it there. They didn't think it was a good fit for the neighbourhood, and council agreed with them."

The developer was notified of the public meeting, and Lafrentz said they chose not to have a representative there. Representatives of two other man camps that operate in the RM did attend the meeting.

"That's a bad thing. If he maybe would have been there to reassure some of the ratepayers of what they're doing and how they're doing it. We had representation from the other camp owners in the area. They were able to answer a lot of questions about camps. That was unfortunate that they couldn't attend the meeting," said Lafrentz.

Aside from traffic, the concerns of ratepayers were widespread, including the camp's proximity to established residences in the municipality as well as security, and some brought into question the developers ability to properly operate a camp.

A document was filed with council that included 80 signatures of people from both the RM and city of Estevan residents who opposed the development proposal.

One resident voiced her concern over allowing a man camp to be installed next to people's homes in a "heavily-populated residential area."

Others were concerned that the man camp might attract drug addicts and criminals who could pose a threat to the RM's ratepayers living in the vicinity.

There was also some concern over there being too many man camps in the RM, with the current ones not bursting at capacity, but Lafrentz noted the RM isn't going to prevent competition among the business in the municipality, and if a developer wishes to enter the municipality, they are welcome.

This was the third rejected proposal AA Estevan Lodge Inc. has filed to construct a man camp in the RM of Estevan.

"You're going to add 260 people of questionable origin into my neighbourhood again. Drug dealing, thieving, whatever you want to call them, there's a good percentage of that that's going to show up," said one ratepayer, regarding the type of residents he would expect at the man camp. "I don't want to have to stand guard over my property, nor does anybody else here. That's what we'll end up with. There are some good people, but the majority of them are just not good people."