SSRP: Milk River

Milk River

Milk River flows into the Gulf of Mexico

Milk River residents had an opportunity to provide their feedback on the Regional Advisory Council’s advice to government for the South Saskatchewan Regional Plan.

The small agriculture community, located close to the US border and nestled near Writing-on-Stone Provincial Park, has a unique history.  The weathered hoodoo formations in this national historic site contain the largest concentration of First Nation rock art images in North America.  The Milk River is the only river in Canada to flow into the Gulf of Mexico.

Here’s what they had to say:

Milk River

In attendance: 28

Vision

  • Several participants indicated that the vision statement was too broad and wordy. They felt it could be shortened.
  • Participants expressed disappointment that property rights were not embedded in the vision statement.
  • Many participants felt strongly that Calgary should not be included in their regional plan because Calgary’s needs and requirements are too different from those in Milk River and area.
  • Participants also expressed concern that Cabinet would ultimately decide how land is used in the region, even though most members of cabinet do not understand issues that drive the region.
  • Some thought that regional planning would lead to more government regulations that those in the region do not want. They do not want government to dictate how things are done in their region.

Healthy economies

  • When it comes to the economy, participants expressed that agriculture should be the focus in the region. Some noted that the current leasing system is working, so why change it?
  • There is a feeling that the oil and gas industry gets free reign in the region. Industry damages roads in the region, leaving local citizen to clean up the mess.
  • Other important aspects of the local economy are forestry and water. Water storage was cited as a good idea.
  • Participants indicated that Bill 2 is a threat to their property rights. Landowners want government to get their permission before building power lines on their property.

Healthy ecosystems

  • To ensure maintenance of healthy ecosystems in the region, participants want to see local input to protect local land. They expressed that only the local residents know what’s best for the land. This includes using the expertise of local watershed groups.
  • Watershed protection is critical. Many expressed that incentives need to be put in place to protect wetlands.
  • Groundwater protection was also deemed important. Fracking is a concern as it is felt that it is harming the water.
  • Some participants expressed concern that increasing tourism would harm the local ecosystem.
  • In addition, some thought more money should be put aside to protect critical habitat, while others felt that too much energy was being spent on some animals, such as sage grouse.

Healthy communities

  • Many participants felt that recreational activities should be closer to Calgary where the population is rather then in their community.  It is felt that land in the Milk River area is too fragile to support significant tourism.
  • Participants wanted to know who decided the recreational areas, since they don’t make sense to the region.
  • There was some discussion that it is counter intuitive to promote tourism in areas that we want to protect. There should be no tourism on agricultural land.
  • There is a feeling that rural communities are suffering at the hands of urban communities. More money, support and infrastructure are needed to maintain rural communities. Facilities such as hospitals were one example.
  • One idea put forward was to look at recreational activities at a sub-regional level.

Land-use direction and Management intent

  • One participant indicated that the conversation directive was another way for government to take away his land.
  • There was a feeling among some participants that government should not be doing any planning in their region at all. The advice of the RAC serves only to complicate how people do business.
  • Participants believe that certain areas, such as Wild Horse Plain and Twin River Heritage cannot take a large influx of tourists and should be conserved.

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