SSRP: Minister hears from Airdrie residents

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.

Minister McQueen listening to feedback at land-use session in Airdrie

Minister McQueen listening to feedback at land-use session in Airdrie

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:

Airdrie

Attendees: 51

Vision

  • 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

Healthy Economy

  • 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.

Healthy Environment

  • 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.

Healthy Communities

  • 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.

Upcoming Sessions

Wednesday, November 21
4 p.m. – 8 p.m.

Canmore
Radisson Hotel and Conference Centre
511 Bow Valley Trail

Milk River
Heritage Hall
213 Main Street

Thursday, November 22
4 p.m. – 8 p.m.

Cochrane
The Ranchehouse
101 Ranchehouse Road

Brooks
Lakeside Leisure Centre – Flexhall
111 – 4th Avenue, West

3 thoughts on “SSRP: Minister hears from Airdrie residents

  1. “For the first time during these consultations, recreation was a major theme that came out of the Airdrie sessions.”

    Either the information from the sessions is not being passed on, or the officials haven’t received accurate information.

    While at the Calgary public consultation, recreation was first and foremost in almost every discussion. Recreation has the most to gain or lose from this plan, yet the associations from the Land Users Agreement in the Elbow Valley weren’t even given an invite to the stakeholders consultation in Calgary. The Calgary Herald article on the SSRP, highlighted that recreation was a major concern among those in attendance during the public consultation. (Calgary Herald Article: http://www.calgaryherald.com/technology/Land+plan+southern+Alberta+lacks+detail+critics/7543693/story.html)

    How is this message only getting acknowledged by the government now?

    • Hi Shaun,

      Thanks for your comment and your point is taken.

      Recreation is a major component of land-use planning. It’s one of the top five themes we’re asking for feedback on and it’s being discussed in all the communities we visit, and in the online submissions we receive.

      The difference we saw in Airdrie was that 30 stakeholders, who come from a variety of backgrounds, sat down together and throughout the course of the four-hour stakeholder session, their conversation kept returning to recreation and how it impacts our economy, communities, and our environment. That input, as well as the important views and opinions on recreation we heard in Calgary and elsewhere, will all be considered in developing a draft South Saskatchewan Regional Plan.

      The Land-use Secretariat maintains a distribution list of more than 6,000 interested stakeholders. If you or your organization wishes to receive regular updates or to attend one of the sessions, please call 310-4455 to register. We still have 9 sessions left and the online workbook is available until December 21.

      Thanks again!

      • Thank-you for acknowledging this! The recent reports appear far more representative of what I’ve witnessed during the consultation process.

        The ESRD continuously failed to acknowledge, or incorporate the public input into the West Bragg Creek Firesmart plan. Instead, they based it almost solely on the requests and input of Spray Lake Sawmills. 97% said no to the plan brought forward by the government and the minister chose to side with the 3% that said yes.

        I’m really hoping that this process will be open, honest and representative of the public will, unlike the West Bragg Consultation process. It’s time for a change!

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