The Alice Sanctuary, a farm animal sanctuary located in Wheatland County, will once again be permitted to host walking tours, small events, and volunteers on the property after the Wheatland County Subdivision and Development Appeal Board (SDAB) approved a development permit appeal on Thursday, April 27.
It was reported in the March 22 edition of the Mail that Wheatland County Municipal Planning Commission (MPC) had denied a development permit application from The Alice Sanctuary for a Home Based Business Type 3, citing a number of considerations, including the fact the sanctuary had operated for a number of years without the appropriate authorization and permits.
The sanctuary, which cares for some 200 abandoned and rescued farm animals, has been in operation since 2014. According to documentation included in the appeal, the sanctuary “were not aware” a permit would be required and, upon being notified of its noncompliance, “have been actively working with (Planning and Development department) to rectify the situation.”
Representatives and supporters of The Alice Sanctuary, including Calgary-born singer-songwriter Jann Arden and sanctuary founder and President Janneane Madill, were present and prepared to speak on behalf of the application during the March MPC meeting; however, the commission did not call upon either the applicant or adjacent landowners to speak for or against the application.
Following discussions by commission members, the application was denied on the basis of noncompliance in obtaining a development permit previously, and complaints received by the County in regards to the sanctuary-of which, the sanctuary notes it was only made aware of one parking complaint, which had been rectified by the sanctuary for approximately three years.
The appeal also noted there were over 200 letters of support, and several of these letters were included in the package.
Wheatland County SDAB approved the appeal, overturning the decision of the Municipal Planning Commission.
The Alice Sanctuary will be responsible for applying dust control annually, and it was recommended the sanctuary “consider moving the tour walk so it does not take place along the mutual fence line with the adjacent neighbour,” and for the sanctuary to continue recording the number of vehicles visiting the premises.
In its decision, the SDAB noted the permit, which expires at the end of 2024, only pertains to the fundraising and volunteer activity on the parcel as the care of animals is a permitted use under its current land designation within the Agriculture district.