Big Lakes County residents have expressed a variety of views as council reviews and updates its municipal development plan (MDP) and land-use bylaw (LUB).
At its regular meeting Oct. 25, council reviewed the comments from open house sessions Aug. 23 in High Prairie and Aug. 24 in Kinuso.
Consultants from ISL Engineering report 58 people responded to a survey that was offered in paper form and online, while 20 people stated comments in person at the two open house sessions.
Reeve Tyler Airth invited council members to add comments that may not have been mentioned by citizens.
“We see what the public said in the report,” Airth said.
“If you see things that need to be added, we’ll add them.”
Council and ISL asked for comments on various types of future growth such as:
-Commercial and industrial development in the county.
-Alternative energy projects such as wind farms and solar collectors.
-Storage of recreational vehicles in hamlets.
-Use of industrial wellsite trailers.
ISL presented a summary of the key points for each category from comments in the survey and open house sessions.
Regarding commercial and industrial development on agricultural lands, many mentioned that more enforcement is needed for industrial and commercial development around meeting permit conditions, reclamation expectations, appropriate locations for camps and the need for more public consultation before new operations are approved.
Regarding recreational vehicle storage in hamlets, most mentioned the storage of RVs on private land should not need to be governed by the municipality. Many mentioned RV storage rules should be loosened to promote more tourism, which would potentially lead to more people living in the county permanently in the future.
Many also mentioned that RV storage wasn’t a problem unless it became unsightly and that better enforcement needs to be taken to manage unsightly properties.
Regarding alternate energy systems, most indicated alternative energy systems should be explored but many indicated more research was needed to understand the impacts of those systems including health risks, environment and end-of-life needs of those systems, particularly solar and wind.
Regarding industrial camps, many respondents indicated industrial camps should not be allowed in residential areas, agricultural lands, environmentally sensitive areas, recreational areas and areas where hunting and gathering places occur, such as traditional medicine harvesting sites.
Regarding industrial wellsite trailers, some respondents mentioned that current regulations are too restrictive for residents who need that type of housing for temporary reasons and that private use should not be regulated.
Comments were also compiled from one-on- one interviews with representatives from 10 municipal community groups that included the Agricultural Service Board, the Municipal Planning Commission, Hilliard’s Bay Estates, Key Cove Estates, the Red Sky Condominium Association, the Deer Park condominium board, the Enilda and District Society for Recreation and Culture, the Grouard Seniors Association, the Joussard Community Association and the Faust Community League.
Council and ISL propose to adopt bylaws to update the LUB and MDP by early 2024.
In the next few months, the council and ISL plan to revise the MDP and LUB based on comments from the community.
Council plans to present draft updates of the MDP and LUB to the community for further comments, hold a public hearing in winter 2023-24 and present the documents for final approval.
Information on the progress of the MDP and LUB review is available on the Big Lakes website at biglakescounty.ca.
by Richard Froese