September 7th, 2023
RM of Lumsden residents Ryan & Jayleen Fitzsimmons attended Thursday's RM meeting. Jayleen started her address by stating they didn't have issues while the site was under previous ownership. She said the previous owners had a sign and a security station directing people where to go at the exit and that despite requests to have a sign installed, it hasn't been done. The popular tourist attraction is open on weekends over six weeks, from September 9th to October 1st.
Issues include washboard roads after the weekends of heavy traffic, trespassing, garbage and people using their property as a toilet. "We have caught people in our barn, we have caught people who have pulled into our farm field driving right onto it to take pictures of the scenery. We have caught people smoking on our property because they can't smoke there, so as soon as they come up the hill they pull into ours and have a cigarette. This poses a major fire risk to me. I'm always petrified that my whole property is going to go up in flames for that six weeks." They said the six weeks have left them unable to enjoy their property.
Jayleen said when she asked if the owner could put up a sign directing people to the super grid, he responded that he paid a lot of money for the land and could do what he wanted, that people could drive where they wanted, and he wasn't going to stop them. She then pleaded with him; they shook hands, and nothing was done.
Ryan said they have experienced more break-ins in the last eight years than in the years since they've been there. "You tell me if it's a coincidence when you have 2000 people a day that aren't from the area out there... We didn't build on a golf course. We want to be alone. We do not want people around."
The Fitzsimmons claim multiple stipulations in a 2016 discretionary use agreement aren't being followed, and they don't know who to call to have them enforced.
"We are reasonable people. We are not asking for a lot. The traffic is unreal, and it's getting worse and worse and worse...we all live in the country for a reason. I just want to be able to enjoy what we have."
The RM Council discussed the issue in closed session, saying it was allowed because it had been a previous legal matter. Council did not make a motion after returning from closed session, instead directing the Administration to send a letter to the RCMP requesting patrols in the area because of the trespassing complaint and asking that Happy Hollow remind its patrons not to park on the driving surface of the road and request that an exit sign is put up directing traffic back to Exit C.
We contacted Linely Schaefer, owner of Happy Hollow, for comment. He said he was caught off guard and has yet to hear from the RM. He feels some of the things said are unfounded and wants to set the record straight. He plans to attend the next RM meeting as a delegate, saying he would address the Fitzsimmons's concerns there. "I look at what I bring to the community…jobs, tax base, the opportunity for other businesses..I will say this..stay tuned because there will be a rebuttal at council."
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