Our final stop this week was the town of Strathmore as we wrapped up a busy month of November on the road. The town has experienced significant population growth in the last two years and when you visit, it’s easy to see why so many have decided to call it home. This thriving agricultural community whose motto, “where quality of life is a way of life” proved to be an excellent location for garnering feedback from Albertans as part of the South Saskatchewan Regional Plan community conversations.
With more than 12,000 residents, Strathmore is actually one of the largest towns in the province and is now eligible for city status under Alberta’s Municipal Government Act. Greg Weadick, the Associate Minister of Municipal Affairs, also stopped by the session to hear what residents had to say about the future of their community.
Here’s a sample of the feedback we received from engaged Strathmore residents, on the advice given to government by the Regional Advisory Council.
In attendance: 42
- Some found the statement pretty generic commenting that “the ‘vision’ could apply to any regional plan.”
- It was noted that the statement includes ‘subjective terms depending on perspective and politics’.
- In terms of transferable development credits, someone asked, “should development be a good thing just because developers want to?”
- Concern was expressed that oil and gas development could override the agricultural sector.
- Respecting private property rights needs to be expanded as a principle.
- We heard that cumulative impacts should be addressed in the strategic land-use principles.
- There’s support for the concept of developing the conservation and stewardship tools as long as: it remained voluntary, included some market incentives, and is flexible.
- Concern that conservation management areas are stringently managed by ESRD.
- We heard that a provincial mandate was needed to implement monitoring for agricultural land fragmentation.
- The environmental impact of oil and gas on agricultural land leases is not captured – this also relates to the issue of water.
- It was noted that water storage sustains growth and as such, needs to be identified and developed.
- Full consideration of climate change as it relates to water storage is needed.
- One firm comment: “Do not include trails in multi-use corridors.”
- One comment: “provisions should be included for walking not just pathways.”
- Several participants noted that Hutterite colonies should be considered in the plan.
- Enhanced approval process on public land leads to cumulative effects, minimizing impact.
- Need to plan for subdivisions – industry can help and some accommodations can be made (i.e. infrastructure plans).
- Recommendations that cannot be enforced by provincial departments should not be included.
- Balance is important not mutually exclusive. We can support each other’s environment and economy..
- Best management practices for agricultural processes are needed.
- Native grassland should be protected and used for responsible grazing.
- It was suggested that a provincial wetland policy be implemented in a regional context.
- More recreation areas are needed and that ‘motorcycle’ hills and mud bogs should be set aside for hunters and recreationists.
- Trails, like the Great Divide Trail, should be added to headwater mapping.
- One comment: “do not support prohibiting people from pristine public areas.”
- The Eastern Slopes should be protected without limiting some users.
- Some were surprised that the North American Waterfowl Management Plan was not considered by RAC – involves continentally significant areas and should be included.
- It was noted that many of RAC’s recommendations seem very reasonable and important.
- We heard that land-use decisions should consider the landowners, i.e., the river corridor recreation area around the BowRiver causes concerns regarding; the area’s remote location, liability of users, and cost of maintaining the trail’s infrastructure. Remove recreational designation and involve area landowners.
- Clarification needed on terms regarding unmanaged access/unmanaged trails.
- Need to ensure adequate public land base for recreation activities.
- We heard that rural needs are different from urban needs – more rural perspective is needed in this section.
Land-use direction and management intent
- Best management practices to encourage the minimizing of farmland conservation and fragmentation.
- Regional planning should capture the fact that “co-existence has to be the reality for multi-users.”
- Public information on current practices is needed before discussing what best management practices will work in the region.
- Benefits for land owners have to be greater.
- More education needed on wetlands and their values to society.
We’re about to head into the final week of community conversations. If you’re unable to attend the sessions in person, we encourage you to take advantage of the opportunity to provide feedback through the online workbook.
Tuesday, December 4
1103 Highway 9 South
Blairmore / Crowsnest Pass
Elks Hall – Blairmore
2025 – 129 Street
Wednesday, December 5
Medicine Hat Lodge
1051 Ross Glen Drive SE
Foremost Community Hall
802 – 1 Avenue W
Thursday, December 6
Coast Lethbridge Hotel
526 Magrath Drive S