SSRP: Medicine Hat

The City of Medicine Hat is a major urban centre in southeast Alberta, and is the southeast entrance to Alberta’s industrial corridor.

Thanks to a large base of natural gas and oil field activity, Medicine Hat has seen tremendous growth in the past five years.  The city continues to prosper with growth in the retail sector, as well as the housing market.  Its major economic sectors include agriculture, manufacturing, oil and gas, retail services and the service industry.

Many residents from the area came out to share their opinions on the Regional Advisory Council’s advice to government.  Their input will help shape the South Saskatchewan Regional Plan.  Here’s a summary of what they had to say.

Photo of participants at the Medicine Hat SSRP session

Great turnout at the Medicine Hat session

Medicine Hat

In attendance: 101

Vision statement and principles

  • Some felt the vision statement was too long for what we are trying to achieve, but it was hard to disagree with it
  • One mentioned it was a strong statement but it was all talk at this point
  • Another person observed that the vision statement suggests the land has been previously mismanaged – they strongly disagree with this
  • There was some conversation on “rights” vs. land conservation
    • Some felt it is awkward to have property rights referred to in the vision statement
    • One person mentioned that there seems to be no recourse for people’s property rights issues; vision statement should better define what is meant by “respecting property rights”
    • Lease lands should be addressed everywhere there is private land – this process will make things too black and white
  • One observed that economic opportunity is last on the list
  • Others mentioned that we should draw upon existing tools and knowledge during this process
  • Some suggest LARP should NOT be used as a framework for SSRP; they are two different lands
  • A question was raised as to how we streamline so all regions are working together
  • A lot of the regulatory processes currently being used are working well
  • Conservation vs. stewardship, too broad, worried about red tape and issues with time
  • There were questions about how land uses will be allocated based on water demand
  • There was a feeling that Bills 2 and 36 will impact the regional plan
  • One person mentioned that Calgary shouldn’t be included in the SSRP

Healthy economy

  • Regarding agriculture, it’s a reality that small farms need to fragment land to keep operations running
  • There needs to be a way to generate revenue and a balance must be found
    • Some mention that the county can’t function if oil/gas industry has to leave
    • For the good of the county, the land must be kept for agriculture
  • A question was raised as to how ecological goods and services can be profit-generating
  • In regards to water, it was mentioned that storage is not possible in CypressCounty; does water storage also include flood management?
  • Local knowledge will be key to Conservation Management Areas (CMAs)
    • There seems to be no recognition that mitigation practices have already been taking place in many areas
    • There was a comment that ranchers are proven land stewards of native prairie; there should be incentives/supports for them
    • There was concern over the ability to run ones business with regulatory burdens
    • Strong emphasis on using local knowledge for much of the conversation around land-use

Healthy environment

  • It was mentioned that we should not sterilize CMAs
  • Concern that stakeholders will be affected by water allocations; shouldn’t the market determine water transfers?
  • It was mentioned that decisions on CMAs should be reversed
    • CMAs are helpful for urban areas, but grazing ability is put at risk; statutory consent also at risk
    • Better clarity is needed to manage risks regarding biodiversity strategy
    • Regarding decision-making, landowners want more control and power in the process; education is key on this topic
  • There is concern that Calgary is dumping into the river and that should be addressed
  • More emphasis should be placed on river systems, coulees and other wildlife corridors
  • Un-managed wildlife in riparian areas is causing a lot of problems

Healthy communities

  • There needs to be clarity/education around the terms “risk” and “managed land”
  • Section’s of RAC’s advice should support the recreation preferences of local residents
  • Lease holders want authority to manage land uses including First Nations
  • Someone mentioned that natural coulees and other special places are increasingly difficult to manage in terms of access; there’s pressure to steward the land
  • Someone mentioned that “cultural diversity” should be better defined as there are different types
  • Regarding the agricultural industry, the regulatory process creates a burden
  • There was mention that the metro plans of Edmonton and Calgary will be crucial
  • Some mention that traditionally farmed areas should NOT be identified as CMAs
  • Aboriginal areas and archaeological areas can be retained; but who will advocate for traditional agricultural areas?
  • Someone mentioned the need for better infrastructure design to promote the connection of the community
  • It will be good to build on what we are already doing
  • Increased public access leads to increased issues and concerns
  • Concern was raised that provincial government involvement is too high for local community development; should focus on developing existing areas to minimize adding new infrastructure

Land-use direction and management intent

  • A question was raised about how leased lands are affected by the potential CMAs
    • Some don’t agree with the CMA concept
    • The CMAs will be heavily scrutinized – GOA needs to clarify vision for active rangelands
  • Economic impacts of regional plan on statutory consents must also be addressed
  • Security of tenure and grazing leases
  • Someone mentioned that all stakeholders should be consulted on revisions to the Public Lands Act
  • Concern was raised that land-use categories introduce risk to energy industry
  • Concern was also raised as to how land owners will be compensated by any land use designations causing economic loss
  • Who will develop the integrated conservation management plans?

There is only one more opportunity to get involved in the community conversations.  If you’re unable to attend the Lethbridge session in person, we encourage you to take advantage of the opportunity to provide feedback through the online workbook until December 21.

Upcoming sessions

Thursday, December 6

Coast Lethbridge Hotel
526 Magrath Drive S

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