Over the next month, we’ll be in 21 communities across Alberta talking about the North Saskatchewan Regional Plan. The purpose of this first round of consultations is to hear from people who live and work in the region about their vision for the area and their thoughts on the draft Terms of Reference for the plan. You can see the summaries for all communities here.
Lloydminster helped us kick off week one of public information sessions and workshops on the North Saskatchewan Regional Plan. Nineteen Albertans – representing many different viewpoints – came out to share their feedback. Here’s what we heard:
THE VISION FOR THE PLAN
- General support expressed for consultation process
- Vision is too long and too general – missing an opportunity to be dynamic and innovative
- The language used creates division between Albertans
- How will we judge the plan’s success? Better tools needed
- Concern about divisions, competing interests between different parts of the region and how the plan will manage these
- Tools needed to resolve conflicts that arise during plan’s implementation
- Vision does not specifically mention Lloydminster. Suggestion that a sub-regional plan is needed for this area.
- Plan does not make a clear distinction between rural and urban
- Lack of continuity between vision and outcomes
- Need a better process to determine suitable outcomes
- Sub-regions need special consideration and the plan’s Regional Advisory Council has the responsibility to reflect sub-regional concerns
- Why differentiate between Aboriginals and citizens?
- This region features an inter-provincial relationship (with Saskatchewan) that may be too complex for the regional plan
- Loss of high-quality agricultural land to other uses is a concern. Agriculture needs to be diversified.
- Agriculture: need inventory of crop and soil types in the region for urban understanding
- More recognition needed for Lloydminster and the value & services it provides to regions
- Government should not “shackle” private sector
- Concern about the increasing foreign ownership of land in Alberta
Specific concerns about energy industry:
- More acknowledgement needed of the oil and gas industry’s responsibility to the region
- Municipalities need more decision-making power when it comes to oil and gas development. Urban and rural areas need to work together
- Coordination between energy companies and municipalities needed on infrastructure needs – e.g. transport of oil has major impact on road infrastructure
- Inventory of oil and gas wells is needed
Specific concerns about tourism:
- Lloydminster needs assessment of tourism opportunities.
- Involve the private sector in developing tourism opportunities
- Possible tourism sectors: culture, agriculture (ecotourism)
HEALTHY ECOSYSTEMS AND ENVIRONMENT
- More wetlands mapping needed
- Watershed and airshed groups should work together
- Environmental frameworks are critical – must be developed in cooperation with the plan and with input from communities, and must be completed before plan is implemented
- Important that industry has enough input into environmental management
- Need clarification on the idea of “shared stewardship” – this could be misinterpreted by landowners
- Municipalities want to retain autonomy and decision-making power
- Suggestion that municipalities should be given the tools to do their own air and water quality testing.
- Opportunity here for innovation to ensure good air and water quality
Specific concerns about water:
- Need a strategy for water storage to ensure year-around availability
- More attention needed to climate change, receding glaciers, water levels
- Water allocation not for consumption should be re-allocated after first use
PEOPLE-FRIENDLY COMMUNITIES, CULTURE & RECREATION
- Need incentives for landowners to allow private access for recreation – fee for access proposed
- More funds needed to develop recreation infrastructure, particularly a new trail system
- Need to build civic pride, awareness of opportunities that are already out there in order to maintain existing population and attract new residents
- More active transportation options needed