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To turf or not to turf

A Whitecourt resident brought his case (Application 17-086) to the table at the August 31 general meeting of the Municipal Planning Commission concerning artificial turf the applicant had placed on his property in response to an official request by the town.

In the fall of 2015, the Residential Boulevard Program began with the goal of removing gravel pads from the boulevards adjacent to residents’ driveways. The applicant, and his neighbour, received notice along with 91 other residences, and quickly did the work necessary using artificial turf to bring their properties into compliance based on the bylaw. At the time, the only requirement in place for the turf was that it be water permeable, which it was.

Shortly after purchasing their product, guidelines were added to the bylaw which then brought both properties back into noncompliance. In the early spring of 2017 it was learned that the applicant had removed his artificial turf over the 2016-2017 winter and then subsequently reinstalled it in the spring of 2017.

Shortly thereafter, both the applicant and his neighbour received notification that the turf did not meet guidelines and requested compliance. The neighbour has since replaced his, but the applicant requested a variance for the turf he had already installed.

Administration felt that since the turf was removed and then reinstalled after adoption of the guidelines that it should not be grandfathered under the old bylaw that it was originally under when it was first installed. Though they recognized the incurred expenses, administration wanted to keep consistency throughout the community.

However, councillors Derek Schlosser and Eris Moncur both felt that the applicant had complied with the bylaw and that the guidelines added to the bylaw which occurred after the resident had already purchased his product, wouldn’t be fair to impose.

“This applicant actually attempted to comply with the directions that he received from planning, and tried to comply with our new bylaws. When he installed the artificial grass in the front, at some expense to himself, he was trying to comply,” said Moncur. “I just don’t think that when he removed it in the winter and then replaced it in the spring wasn’t doing anything but complying. There was continuity there so I don’t feel it was appropriate to make him, at his own expense, upgrade to a new product.”

The application passed in favour of the resident, allowing him to keep his turf as is for a time. The lifespan of the product is eight years and since it has been in place for the past two years, the committee agreed that the applicant would be able to keep it for another six years with replacement set to happen before June 1, 2023.

If you have any questions concerning the Residential Boulevard Program, call 780-778-2273 or visit the town office.


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