RM of Keys ratepayers meet with minister

Last week a delegation of concerned RM of Keys ratepayers traveled to the Saskatchewan Legislature to meet with the Honourable Warren Kaeding, Minister of Government Relations, and officials from Community Planning and Water Security Agency.

The RM of Keys council is submitting Bylaw 03-2018 to the Minister of Government Relations for his approval as the approving authority under the Planning and Development Act, and the delegation was given an opportunity to voice its concerns.

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Several issues were raised, with focus being on the proposed colony site and the intensive livestock operation (ILO) being located directly over the Empress and Fulton Lake water aquifers and the process being followed by the RM council in its attempt to have Bylaw 03-2018 adopted.

The Fulton Lake fresh water aquifer provides national award-winning water to the town of Canora, to cottage owners at Canora Beach, Burgess Beach and Good Spirit Lake. Over 300 individual farmsteads and the villages of Rama and Buchanan also utilize this water source.

Three specific water studies were provided to the minister: theTown of Canora: Wellfield Development (1999) study, theYorkton Area Aquifer (2006) study and theAssiniboine River Basin Municipal Well Assessment Report (2007), all of which outline the dangers and state that an ILO should not be located over a fresh water aquifer.

The second area of focus was the process used when the RM council, through the proposed definitional changes in existing Zoning Bylaw 2004-03, attempted to bring the same change to its Basic Planning Bylaw 2004-02. The ratepayers argue this process to amend only the Zoning Bylaw and not also the Basic Planning Bylaw is flawed and should not be permitted by the minister.

A third issue raised was the failure of the RM council to engage in proper third-party consultation. Low lying areas directly adjacent to the proposed sewage lagoon and the ILO facility will drain into Stoney Creek, a waterway which is less than one mile away from one of the First Nation reserves.

The First Nations of The Key, Keeseekoose and Cote were not contacted by council, and no consultations occurred respecting the collective living or the ILO, steps which are a requirement under both provincial and federal regulatory process.

While the review and the decision-making process by the minister was just the beginning, the delegation was pleased that its comments were received by the ministerial officials in an objective manner, and that the materials and reports submitted were openly accepted by them for consideration in the approval process.

The ratepayer’s delegation was left to think that, had its comments and reports been received by the RM council in a similar fair and objective manner, community concerns with the proposed bylaw and the ILO might have progressed in an entirely different manner.