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MD council considers more silo developments

Thursday, 27 October 2022. Posted in Shootin' the Breeze

MD council considers more silo developments

MD council considers more silo developments
By Sean Oliver
Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

“Ideas cannot be limited to the confines of a silo,” author Steve Hardy wrote. “They need space to run around and occasionally bump into strangers.”

As it happens, two separate proposals from residents in the MD of Pincher Creek demonstrate that great thinkers think alike when it comes to using refurbished grain bins for recreation accommodation.

Spearpoint Cattle Company

MD of Pincher Creek council held a public hearing for the first proposed recreation accommodation plan, which would be situated just outside Twin Butte off Highway 6. The public hearing was held for rezoning the property from agriculture to R2 rural recreation.

The proponents, Clint Marr and Carter Marr, both spoke at the hearing to explain the rationale behind the project and address any concerns residents might have, though there were no submissions and no one in attendance spoke in opposition to the project.

Although private short-term rental options on the internet were available for the project, Clint said going through the municipal process was the right course of action.

“We want to be up-front and transparent to our neighbours and community,” Clint said. “We want to do it right; we don’t want to hide behind an Airbnb or bed-and-breakfast scenario. We want to do it the way it’s supposed to be done.”

The motivation behind the idea, added Carter, was economic diversification in the face of rising operational ranching costs.

“For most ranches, it’s almost impossible to hang on. Most families have people working off the ranch just to keep going and paying the ranching expenses with money they made outside agriculture,” he said.

Diversifying into tourist accommodation, he continued, was a way to take advantage of the growing tourist interest in the area and was a better option than gradually selling off parcels of land to wealthy business professionals looking to build their vacation homes.

“We’ve gone from a quiet hidden gem in the corner of southwestern Alberta to a new hot spot for travellers worldwide,” said Carter. “Many feel this is the start of the wave for tourism in Pincher Creek.”

Carter also specified that the venture was strictly a small-scale tourist accommodation and that the general term of “campground” was inaccurate. Since only four bins would be constructed (three for guest accommodation and one for a community barbecue area), the number of guests and subsequent traffic would be minimal.

The renovated grain bins themselves were purposely chosen to match the rural landscape.

“There are 97 grain bins that I could count from my driver’s seat staying on Highway 6 all the way to Waterton,” he added. “Nobody has ever been concerned about 97 grain bins that we currently have on the highway, including the three I just put up behind my house last year.”

“We find our project to be very minimalist,” Carter continued. “This is a way for us to continue as a ranch and not have to resort to less desirable options. At the end of the day, we have to ask you all to trust us that we’re going to make a very nice, subtle, quiet vacation getaway that only impacts our community for the greater good.”

River Bend Ranch Houses

Council approved first reading for an identical proposed rezoning from agriculture to R2 rural recreation at NE-20-6-1-W5. The rezoning would allow for five grain bins converted to tourist accommodations as part of the River Bend Ranch Houses business proposal.

“There must’ve been a sale on grain bins,” joked Coun. John MacGarva prior to first reading being passed.

The proposal would rezone 20 acres between Lundbreck and Beaver Mines that is currently unusable for agriculture since no hay can be planted and the sparse grass coverage supports minimal grazing.

Three of the silo cabins would house a king bed and bathroom, with a kitchen including a sink, fridge and microwave. The silos would also contain a wood-burning stove and air conditioning unit.

The other two units would be offered as exclusive cabins, with larger square footage and a queen bed and two singles to accommodate family groups. The kitchen would be similar to the other cabins but include a stove and dishwasher. The exclusive cabins would also have a wraparound porch with a patio and barbecue.

Access to the property is provided by a gravel road that could potentially be paved in the future. Once on the property, a road would need to be developed, though it would simply be an extension of the existing MD agreement for the owner’s driveway.

The bins would be placed just down the hill from the owner’s house, providing privacy but also easy contact should any issues arise. Each cabin would be anchored into foundations but built on rig mats to allow for relocation if necessary; electricity to the units would be provided by a parallel line. Each cabin would have its own electrical panel.

A new water well and sewage system would be installed in accordance with regulations.

The proposal includes a storage container on-site to house a washer and dryer for guests, as well as storage space for river equipment for recreating in the nearby Castle River. If the rezoning is ultimately approved, a development permit would need to be obtained for the container from the MD’s development authority.

A public hearing for the proposed rezoning will be held Tuesday, Nov. 22, 6 p.m. in council chambers.