County adopts new municipal development plan for future

  • Jul. 29, 2009 7:00 a.m.

Richard Froese

Independent reporter

Preserving and enhancing agriculture and the rural lifestyle is the prime focus of a new municipal development plan for the County of Stettler.

At its regular meeting July 14, county council gave second reading to the new development plan that was previously updated in 2004, following a public hearing.

“We didn’t receive any submissions for or against,” said Johan van der Bank, director of planning and development.

With plenty of opportunity for public participation in visioning workshops and a questionnaire, the plan was strongly supported by residents and other stakeholders.

“The majority of respondents overwhelmingly agreed with the key directions of the draft municipal development plan,” said van der Bank.

No objections were filed by adjacent municipalities, school divisions and related government agencies.

Council plans to adopt the budget at its next regular meeting Aug. 12 after discussing and clarifying policies for subdividing agricultural land.

“Four strong themes emerged from public consultation,” said Chris Ulmer, of Parkland Community Planning Services.

“Those themes included a strong desire to retain the rural characteristics of the county and preserve agricultural land, enhancing the hamlets, preserving environmentally-sensitive areas and diversify the local economy”

From comments from residents during the workshops and the initial questionnaire, the consultant presented 10 guiding principles, including protection and support of agricultural uses; identifying and protecting environmentally sensitive areas; caring for land-use compatibility; coordinating the infrastructure expansion with land use; encouragement of diversification of local economy; promoting growth within and in surrounding existing hamlets; provision of a range of housing opportunities and maintaining cooperative relationships with neighbouring municipalities.