It was a full house at the South Saskatchewan Regional Planning session in Airdrie as we continue gathering feedback on the Regional Advisory Council’s advice to government. The level of expertise and passion of the participants made for a dynamic conversation as they shared their differing perspectives.
ESRD Minister Diana McQueen spent some time at the session listening to resident’s ideas and feedback on RACs advice, land-use planning, conservation and water.
For the first time during these consultations, recreation was a major theme that came out of the Airdrie sessions. It’s a common element that touches all Albertans. Here’s a summary of what was said:
- The importance of recreation must be addressed in the regional plans to account for a growing population and limited areas to recreate.
- A balance needs to be found when discussing property rights within land-use principles:
- Respect for property rights is mostly privately held – hard to balance rights of owners with views of landscapes.
- Inherent conflict in protecting property rights vs development
- Planning can alleviate problems from occurring – ranchers are tempted to sell land as values go up.
- Some stakeholders expressed concern about balancing both economy and conservation.
- There was a feeling that new conservation tools must be developed and implemented early. There was support for stakeholder involvement in developing those tools.
- Concern was also raised that existing conservation tools should not be ignored “do not recreate the wheel” and that they should be identified in the plan:
- Special areas
- Species at risk
- Environmental impact assessments
- Recreation needs to be more accessible, with appropriate services. Recreation areas are overused, some areas closer to Calgary have been shut down.
- There is a need to consult specific user groups to better identify areas where recreation use is currently occurring.
- Random camping is a huge issue in the western edges of the region. There are not enough facilities for camping, current and future needs must be addressed.
- Unmanaged camping should not be permitted.
- Firm enforcement should be replaced with firm stewardship through the education system.
- Need to understand why campgrounds are not being used first, before moving to implementation.
- User groups need more information on how to effectively manage recreation areas.
- Multi-use corridor concept along Highway 2 should specifically include future plans for a high-speed rail line.
- Innovative ways to store water needs to be found. The improvement of the Columbia River in the United States was cited as an example.
- Watershed riparian areas must be protected as much as possible.
- The definition of watershed integrity needs to be clarified.
- Is there an opportunity to offset loss of power generation for water storage during low flow at reservoirs?
- Development of water transfer mechanisms are out of line with RAC’s direction.
- Water used for energy development was identified as an issue; there is a requirement for access roads and power.
- Important to use same baseline data and information already developed and build from there (environmental research and land base assessment).
- Data should be shared and accessed widely for research.
- Land-use bylaws need to address the installation of wind farms. Strong provincial regulation and municipal boundary set backs are needed to avoid controversy.
- Regional plans should address the alignment with municipal decision making. Municipalities need to have resources and the capacity necessary to implement the regional plans – it’s a lot to put on a municipality’s plate unless it’s properly funded.
- There was a feeling that the focus for healthy communities is in urban centres, but outdoor recreation enthusiasts go into rural areas.
- Recreation needs to be available to people at a reasonable cost.
- User fees should be determined based on the activity or case-by-case basis.
- Coordination is missing between agencies in major recreation corridor areas.
- There is support for multi-use trails, but appropriate facilities are needed.
- Trails should connect urban centres.
- High value landscapes should not be overdeveloped, i.e., Castle, Kananaskis.
- There’s a potential that destination and tourism routes will limit resource access. This needs to be managed so resource access is not sterilized or the cost of business becomes too great.
Lane-use Direction and Management Intent
- There is a fear within tenure holders that there is a present land value and placing land-use restrictions will affect that value. Where do grazing tenures fit in the regional plan?
- Specifics on growth management needs to be included in the regional plan, population growth leads to increase demand.
- How are high conservation values determined on private vs public land?
- There are concerns with mixed-use forests. The wording within the management intent is to support resource development but the priority should be recreation sections.
Wednesday, November 21
4 p.m. – 8 p.m.
Radisson Hotel and Conference Centre
511 Bow Valley Trail
213 Main Street
Thursday, November 22
4 p.m. – 8 p.m.
101 Ranchehouse Road
Lakeside Leisure Centre – Flexhall
111 – 4th Avenue, West