We kicked off week four of the South Saskatchewan Regional Plan community conversations in town of Claresholm – located between Calgary and Lethbridge – on Tuesday. The lovely community, nestled in one of the most spectacular parts of Alberta’s foothills, is home to more than 3,700 Albertans. Those who attended provided insightful and well-informed feedback on the Regional Advisory Council’s advice to government.
If you’re unable to attend the sessions in person, be sure to take advantage of the opportunity to provide feedback through the online workbook.
Meanwhile, here are sample comments from folks in Claresholm — where the focus wasn’t as much on water as it was on healthy environment.
In attendance: 35
- Some liked the vision – agree with what SSRP will do but wonder how it will be managed.
- Others said the urban perspective – urban centres and urban sprawl – need to be addressed.
- Groundwater supply is integral to surface water. This needs to be stressed and studied.
- Efficiency of water storage is important as larger water bodies mean more evaporation.
- Definition of property rights needs to be clarified, the constitution doesn’t identify, or enshrine them.
- Clarify difference between public and private interest.
- Increase emphasis on protection and conservation of agricultural land.
- A few people said there needs to be clarity around public vs crown-owned land use
- More baseline information is needed before effective strategies can be developed.
- Water usage for fracking is a concern.
- It’s important to recognize that ecological goods and services protect water resources so we need to protect these to ensure a healthy economy.
- Need to limit high impact recreational users and their impact to land
- Recreation and tourism needs to be further addressed – logging in Bragg Creek area is limiting access to recreation users.
- Water is key to every sector discussed. It needs to be protected.
- Need to recognize that you can’t conserve water if you don’t have it
- We heard that the identified Conservation Management Areas are quite extensive.
- How is biodiversity managed?
- Landowners, farmers, rancher not being recognizes for their stewardship
- One comment: “Get rid of tourism. High impact tourism can’t co-exist with proper environmental management. “
- A few people said that benefits of eco-tourism (like fishing) need to be considered. However, someone noted that fishing isn’t eco-tourism.
- Someone noted that natural green zones should be left alone as they are vital to functional wetlands.
- The plan needs to recognize that private landowners can provide recreation initiatives.
- Some ranchers and landowners expressed serious concerns about recreational users and impact on land.
- Population growth will change the communities. Are communities willing to welcome sustainability and more population growth?
- There’s a need to consider the diversity within the region and accept regional partnerships.
- Some identified a need to educate the public on: public land, crown land and disposition land.
Land-use direction and management intent
- We heard that thresholds are required to define and manage cumulative impacts.
- In thinking of water allocation, someone noted that “first in line, first in right” is disappearing but is needed.
- We heard that more education is required on the realities in forestry – “we need to learn from the Kelowna fire.”
- Some noted that new conservation areas should be considered only if there are gaps in the area.
- A few people don’t support the Conservation Management Area — feeling that it’s too large and it will have a huge impact on the area.
We have an exciting week ahead. Up next is beautiful Okotoks, then we’ll wrap up the month of November in Strathmore.
Wednesday, November 28
Foothills Community Centre
4, 204 Community Way
Thursday, November 29
Strathmore Centennial Civic Centre
120 Brent Boulevard