County should delay new land-use bylaw

Dear editor,

The County of Stettler is proposing to pass its new land-use bylaw Sept. 7.

County ratepayers, especially rural residents and farmers/ranchers need to sit up and take notice of this new land use bylaw as it is not going to be business as usual for any of us after Sept. 7 if this bylaw receives second and third readings as proposed.

The draft land-use bylaw will restrict my ability to farm, it will drive potential commercial and industrial development away from the county to the Town of Stettler and it restricts my ability to enjoy my rural lifestyle by imposing bylaws and restrictions that normally would only apply in towns and cities. Furthermore, the proposed bylaw imposes restrictions on my property that amount to expropriation without compensation.

The land-use bylaw applies to all land, including farmland, and buildings within the County of Stettler. Of particular interest is how the county’s land-use bylaw will impact agriculture and the ability to farm our own land. As the Bylaw is presently drafted, all primary farming uses, activities and agricultural operations, other than specifically cattle ranging and crop seeding, will require a “farm permit”. Previously farming on land was an approved activity. If the draft land-use bylaw is passed on Sept.7, anything we do on our land with the very limited exceptions of cattle grazing and crop seeding, without first having obtained a right to farm permit from the county development officer will mean we are breaking the county’s law and we are subject to stop orders, fines and imprisonment.

I would suggest the council members not pass the land use bylaw on Sept. 7 but defer passage of the bylaw until after the municipal election to be held next month. If the council members feel so strongly that the rural ratepayers’ ability to farm should be decided by council, then they should be willing to stand for election on that platform.

Last election, too many council members were acclaimed and this bylaw serves as an example of where that kind of apathy and disinterest leads to.

In this election, candidates who have a clearer vision of a rural lifestyle, farming and the right to farm, and the need for less government need to be willing to come forward and stand for election.


Rob Somerville