Summer villages oppose density increase at Buffalo Lake RV development

STETTLER – The summer villages of Rochon Sands and White Sands rejected Stettler County’s proposal to increase the number of lots at Buffalo Lake RV Resort development from 168 to 325.

The Buffalo Lake Intermunicipal Development Plan (BLIDP) already allows for 325 units. The BLIDP members include the County of Stettler, the Summer Villages of White Sands and Rochon Sands, the County of Lacombe and the County of Camrose.

The BLSSIDP restricts the density of this site to 168 units. Members of the BLSSIDP include the County of Stettler, the Summer Villages of Rochon Sands and the Summer Village of White Sands.

Council for the County of Stettler said Tuesday they will review the Summer Villages’ responses and consider its next steps.

Buffalo Lake RV Development was formerly known as Paradise Shores.

Stettler County issued a stop-work order on the development on May 17, 2019. Stettler County said after a site inspection on May 2 they had significant concerns that the development permits for the project weren’t met. The developer was ordered to stop construction and remove all the RV’s parked at the 168-acre site until they comply with development permits with respect to density requirements.

The construction company hired to develop RV Sites Canada’s Paradise Shores along Buffalo Lake filed bankruptcy in 2019 leaving unsecured debt to many Stettler sub-contractors.

Heavy North Construction, based out of Edmonton, filed for bankruptcy protection April 16, 2019, in Calgary listing $16 million in debts. Eight Stettler businesses are listed as unsecured debtors with almost $1 million owed to them.

In 2018 Stettler County’s Subdivision and Appeal Board slashed the size of the development from 750 to 168 sites. Former Calgary developer David Hamm appealed the decision but Calgary Court of Appeal denied his application.

Hamm and RV Sites Canada are no longer part of the development. New owners took over at the end of August 2019.

The new owners of the development have a website and say there was no fraud but there was mismanagement.

“At this time, we have no reason to believe that any fraud was enacted,” said Buffalo Lake RV Resort owners on its website.

“There seems to have definitely been poor financial practices, control and communications. It appears that the money was just spent in 2018 without strict budgeting controls. Coupled with (1) the bankruptcy of the lead Construction Contractor – Heavy North – and (2) a questionable density ruling, problems arose. Previously, we had no access to the books, and our concerns first were raised at the beginning of 2019 when more investment was requested. This made no sense considering the sales numbers that were happening. We have just begun going through the books and will know more down the road. While this is of interest, our priority is getting the RV Resort back on track, and the current Lease Holders back onsite and camping at this great park. It is important, to note, however, that to date our family has received zero dollars back from the park ourselves for our significant investment. While some other parties have gained financially to a certain degree from this development, we have not. So, again we are a lot like you – money in and nothing in return at this point! We are going to do our best to change that for all of us.”

The new owners also said they are working with Stettler County to lift the stop-work order.

“We are hopeful that all conditions will be met over the next six months, thereby allowing the order to be lifted.”

Updated Feb. 18 7:36 p.m.

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