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 find the session information for your community here and see the summaries for all communities here.
The town of Provost kicked off our fourth week of North Saskatchewan regional planning sessions on Tuesday with a lively conversation. 6 Albertans came out, including representatives of the Municipal District of Provost and the Battle River Watershed. As usual, land use, the economy and the environment were hot topics – but we also heard some very interesting feedback on the differences in the region, as well as the Municipal Governance Act.
Here’s what we heard:
VISION AND OUTCOMES
- Will parts of the region that have a history of consciously addressing issues (like the Eastern part of the region) be penalized for issues elsewhere (like on the Eastern Slopes)?
- Potential outcome of the regional planning process is the biggest concern
- Oil and gas needs to be addressed more explicitly in the vision
- Vision needs to prioritize protecting agricultural land for smaller operations – small farms are being swallowed by larger farms and new developments.
- Concern with the plan changing right of ways to undevelopable areas
- Increasing value-add operations for our primary resources should be a priority – should refine bitumen here
- Multiple potential areas for wind power development – but this is a divisive issue
- Competition from the oil patch leads to labour shortages in other sectors
- Need more concrete goals for reclamation – impacts aggregate mining, construction industries as well as oilsands
- Where are the goal posts going to be for reclamation? Impacts to aggregate mining and
- M.D. of Provost would like to see their Area Structure Plan for the Hardisty area included in the regional plan
HEALTHY ECOSYSTEMS AND THE ENVIRONMENT
- Need to complete a groundwater survey for the region
- Elk population in the area is conflicting with agriculture – need to balance these needs
- Area experiences drastic cycles of precipitation – how do we manage these?
- “Random outfitting” and trespassing are both issues in the region. Outfitters claim they have permission to use land that is actually leased – this causes an increase in hunter-landowner conflicts.
- We live in a great part of the world – we shouldn’t take it for granted
PEOPLE-FRIENDLY COMMUNITIES, CULTURE AND RECREATION
- Aboriginals are not the only group with knowledge of the land – landowners have important first-hand knowledge as well
- There are no identified trails in Eastern Alberta. Government needs to identify and develop a trail system – people can help with this but don’t want to be told that they have to do it themselves.
- No big issues jump out in this area
- Current Municipal Governance Act is working well – should maintain this as the status quo