SSRP: Brooks

Hay bale in rural AlbertaAnother great week of land-use planning sessions has wrapped up.  We thank all the residents from across southern Alberta who’ve taken the time to provide us with their feedback on the Regional Advisory Council’s advice to government.  This feedback will be invaluable as we move towards the next phase – drafting the South Saskatchewan Regional Plan.

The conversation tour will visit eight more communities before December 6, and online feedback will be accepted until December 21. 

Brooks

In attendance: 58

Vision and Principles

  • There were three main areas of concern: property rights, access to water and regulatory streamlining.
  • In terms of property rights, participants noted that property rights should include development of land in all aspects and fair compensation. Some participants expressed concern that the energy industry is gaining influence at expense of landowner. Attendees noted that property rights are about more than ownership. Property rights also include leases and water rights.
  • Participants expressed that access to water is critical to the future of the region. Some expressed concern that Calgary has been allocated more water than it can use, but conservation being pushed in agricultural areas rather than cities. Regional plan needs to focus more on water. Water quality was a particular concern for some.
  • In addition, participants are concerned that if regulatory process is streamlined it will favour industry rather than landowner. Participants indicated that regulations are in place for a reason. Bill 2 is eroding land owners rights.
  • In terms of the vision statement itself, attendees noted that they would like to see more specifics. Participants indicated that the statement is too broad, too fluffy, too general, and too long. Participants said the statement captures the idea well, but the devil is in the details.
  • First Nations land is vital to agricultural interaction in the region.

Healthy economy

  • Participants discussed agriculture as an important part of the regional economy. It is the most vulnerable industry – has a small voice, but big priorities and needs.
  • Water and access to water were also discussed as important for a healthy economy. They noted that water should not be saved only for rivers because there is more opportunity to use it on the land. Water storage areas are a driver for the economy.
  • Participants felt that several concepts were missing from the advice, including the contributions of urban centres to the economy. Other industries that should be considered include: wholesale trade, manufacturing, and utilities.
  • Tourism was noted as another important part of the economy.

Healthy ecosystems

  • During the discussion on healthy ecosystems, participants indicated that they thought important things were missing from the advice, such as air quality and irrigation districts.
  • Some participants indicated that they support the biodiversity section of the advice, while others thought that when an endangered species lives in a region, that region is already very well managed. 
  • We heard that the conservation areas noted in the advice exist because the landowners have taken good care of the land. For some participants, frameworks already in place to allow municipalities to make land-use decisions are better.
  • Participants wondered how to balance Calgary vs. rural needs.
  • Several participants indicated that off-road vehicles can harm sensitive landscapes, so off-roading should not be allowed.
  • We heard that the wetland policy needs to be regional because a provincial plan is too broad.
  • Participants expressed concern about oil and gas industry harming water quality and quantity.

Healthy communities

  • We heard that water is vital for growth and quality of life in the region.
  • Participants indicated that tourism should reflect needs of the land. One idea presented was to rotate areas used for tourism with logging. Other suggestions included considering non-motorized trails in certain areas and using regional facilities to meet needs of several municipalities.
  • Participants noted that oil and gas development has a negative impact on recreational areas.

Land-use direction/Management intent

  • We heard several ideas for native rangeland including mining, ranching, and converting to agricultural land.
  • Participants expressed their concerns that new regulations could hinder future opportunities. Flexibility and balance is needed.
  • The importance of encouraging new residents to move to rural areas rather than big cities was noted during discussions. Municipalities support rural population growth because it helps smaller communities grow and stay alive.
  • We also heard that participants believe that stakeholder input is vital for regional planning.
  • In addition, landowners and leasees need the ability of control access to land.

Upcoming sessions

Tuesday, November 27
Claresholm
Claresholm Community Centre, North Hall
5940 – 59 Avenue W

Wednesday, November 28
Okotoks
Foothills Community Centre
4, 204 Community Way

Thursday, November 29
Strathmore
Strathmore Centennial Civic Centre
120 Brent Boulevard

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