What we heard: ‘digging’ through the top SSRP feedback from Drumheller

SSRP banner

This month, we’re in 21 communities talking to Albertans about the draft South Saskatchewan Regional Plan – a long-term land use plan for the region. These summaries, posted the day following each session, try to capture the main themes expressed during each session – which weren’t necessarily agreed upon by everyone. 

 The turnout for last week’s SSRP session in Drumheller was quite small. Perhaps the town’s residents – like inhabitants from a previous epoch – were turned off by cold weather. Or maybe they were just ‘petrified’ by the thought of spending an evening with government employees.

Despite the small numbers, we ended up with some good conversations and comments from a total of seven participants. Stakeholder organizations who attended the Drumheller session included:

One person who attended the public session was the chair of the local municipal planning commission, and had done some work on an earlier phase of the plan’s development. He was pleased to see what had become of his work – and appreciative that we had made the trek out to hold a session in his area.

Drumheller hoodoos WC public domain

 Here’s what we heard:

The SSRP Vision and Proposed Goals:

  • Vision is vague and not specific enough to the region
  • Water is a huge issue in this region and it is not mentioned in the vision statement
  • Targets and outcomes are ambiguous
  • Concern that the biodiversity framework has not been developed yet

Healthy economy:

  • Support for the plan’s recognition that resources can be developed responsibly and that development and recreation/tourism opportunities are not mutually exclusive
  • More enforcement is needed for forestry buffer zones, pipeline operations, and off-highway vehicle use
  • Preservation of agricultural land needs to be a priority, factor into decision-making for other industries (e.g. mining, oil and gas projects)

Biodiversity management framework: 

Photo of Canada geese

Some Drumheller participants are concerned that the plan’s biodiversity framework has not yet been completed.

  • More specific targets are needed for biodiversity
  • Concern that completion of the biodiversity framework has been delayed – “there is plenty of data available already to complete it”
  • Conservation areas are too small and fragmented and do not cover valley bottoms
  • Inadequate protections for species-at-risk

Public land:

  • The plan focuses on and “entrenches” motorized recreation – not enough focus on switching to alternative non-motorized/eco-based recreation
  • Don’t need to shut off access to Castle for quadders – enough room for both quads and natural areas
  • Regional trails plan requires consultation, better defined motorized and non-motorized trails
  • Enforcement has to be part of any plan for recreation on public land
  • Practical system needed to determine the linear footprint for pipelines and utilities and determine who is responsible for operating & funding monitoring

Stewardship and conservation of private land:

  • Need a system of compensation for the conservation efforts of landowners and leaseholders – this has been implemented successfully elsewhere and would improve buy-in from people on private land

Air and water quality:

  • Better water storage & protection of headwaters and wetlands will improve our ability to control flooding and water quality
  • Need to be careful that flood mitigation does not harm downstream communities
  • Province needs to align air quality triggers with federal ones and the triggers need to be clear
  • Monitoring data needs to be more accessible and the cost of monitoring needs to be shared among multiple stakeholders
  • Concerns about availability of land to replace disturbed wetlands given urban growth, and the lack of incentives for owners and lease holders to turn over land for this purpose

Strengthening communities:

  • Need stronger linkages between SSRP and the Calgary Municipal Plan
  • Rural municipalities that are not Calgary Regional Partnership members need to have input on the Calgary Municipal Plan – currently, planning is dominated by the larger urban centres
  • Aboriginal people must be consulted as the SSRP is developed

Our next stops: 

November 26 – Pincher Creek and Medicine Hat

November 27 – Okotoks and Brooks

November 28 – Cochrane and Red Deer

Intrigued? Remember – you can provide feedback on the draft plan through an online workbook or by attending one of the information sessions being held throughout November. Feedback on this blog or the session? Tweet us – @AENV_SRD.

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