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Picture Butte council approves new IDP

Posted on April 17, 2018 by Sunny South News

By Nikki Jamieson
Sunny South News

Picture Butte has approved a new intermunicipal development plan with Lethbridge County.

During Picture Butte town council’s regular April 9 meeting, a public hearing was held on Bylaw 865-18 — or the Lethbridge County and Town of Picture Butte Intermunicipal Development Plan.

The purpose of the bylaw is to set regulations for intermunicipal development and cooperation between the town and Lethbridge County. In Picture Butte council’s regular March 12 meeting, the proposed bylaw was in front of council had been given an update — as the old one had last been updated in 2014 — and was given first reading. Before council could pass any more reading on the bylaw, a public hearing first had to be held. Both the town and county have performed first reading for the bylaw.

According to town documents on the bylaw, the “Intermunicipal Development Plan outlines policies that apply to lands in the urban fringe area and within parts of the town and is to be used as a framework for decision making in each municipality with input and cooperation of the other jurisdiction”.

Additionally, “both the Councils of the Town of Picture Butte and Lethbridge County agree that it is to their mutual benefit to establish joint planning policies, and this negotiation and agreement reflects a continuing cooperative approach between the two municipalities and the desire to see well-planned, orderly, and managed growth”.

An open house for the bylaw was held earlier this year, but Steve Hardy, a town planner with the Oldman River Regional Services Commission, said it didn’t receive a “high turnout”.

Although two written submissions after the open house expressed concern over the IDP boundary, upon review, the town and county IDP committee found that the boundary was consistent with other county IDPs.

Although two written submissions after the open house expressed concern over the IDP boundary, upon review, the town and county IDP committee found that the boundary was consistent with other county IDPs.

“The boundary proposed is pretty consistent with other IDPs that Lethbridge County has done between all its urbans, between the City of Lethbridge, the Town of Coaldale, town of Coalhurst, in Picture  Butte and Nobleford. In fact, some are boundaries are even bigger,” said Hardy.

“So the county’s trying to be fairly consistent with their urban municipalities. They didn’t want to go too much less then what was proposed, in order to be consistent with all the urbans and the rules they applied in those fringe areas.

“It’s not changing the zoning of the land, it’s not changing what they can do on the land, everything as it is now continues on, it’s not putting special rules to them. What the IDP boundary is, is that it just establishes a joint area between the county and the town, where they refer applications of new proposals to each other  — whether it’s subdivision or development — so they’re aware of what’s going on, comment on it, that sort of thing. And it also allows actually enables or allows some landowners in certain areas around the town, if the area has been identified for future commercial along the highway, that sort of thing, or future industrial land, that that landowner could in the future, do a development or do a plan for a commercial-type of development in that area, and allows the opportunity to say, ‘This area is, we’ve determined, unsuitable for commercial development’ so yeah, any future commercial proposal, we’re for looking at that, but it doesn’t make anybody change their  land-use from agriculture to commercial or that sort of thing. Any agriculture operations out there, it’s status quo, they can continue on as they are, it’s not forcing anybody or putting any extra rules or restrictions on anybody, it’s just allowing the opportunity for future, something different.”

Cattle feedlot operations inside the boundary would also be able to operate normally, with Hardy stressing the IDP “doesn’t change anything”.

Approximately six people, who Mayor Cathy Moore identified as county residents, attended the hearing. There was no one attending who spoke in favour of the IDP, nor were there written submissions in favour of it.

Lawrence Van Essen, who owned land within the proposed boundary by the Picture Butte Golf Course. He said he didn’t understand why more land west of town was included in the boundary then there was east of town, adding it wasn’t answer at the open house, which he attended.

“This plan is much too ambitious and unnecessary. If it were downsized o included all the land that lies adjacent to the existing town boundary, it would be more reasonable and feasible,” said Van Essen.

“This is placing restriction on land that will possibly not be developed by the town for centuries to come. This land is currently governed by the NRCB (Natural Resources Conservation Board), and that is sufficient.”

Using the example of the Town of Coaldale — which recently successfully annexed land from Lethbridge County — he noted that Coaldale’s population was over 8,200 and they expect to double their population within 25 years, and increased their town boundaries to 14 square kilometers. This IDP, he claimed, is larger then that.

Another attendee who owned land in the area zoned as fringe, Lyle Adams, was concerned that the IDP boundary meant that they would be restricted from new expansion, such as adding cattle or building compost piles, because of the land designation.

“The problem that I have with this is urban development is moving towards us. We’re not moving towards the urban development, and that’s the problem,” said Adams.

“The people that live within the urban areas are telling us what to do with our land, and what we can’t do with our land. We made huge investments — land, equipment, money on infrastructure — all these things so our operation can run, yet we have people in town, you know what? There’s so many thing that we do that I think you guys don’t realize. When I’m spreading manure, when I’m hauling silage, I have a water truck hired, to keep who happy? My neighbours and the people in town.

“I know we can keep operating the way we are, but it restricts us to things we can or can’t do.”

Hardy explained that it was a provincial requirement for the town and the county to create an IDP, and it needed to go in place before the end of next year. Sections 631 and 692 of the Municipal Government Act mandate IDPs.

Hardy said the attendees’ land — zoned fringe or otherwise — with not be changing designation.

As NRCB looks after feedlots, if someone applies for an expansion, they apply an expansion factor, which is dependent on how far from town you are and what animals you have.

“Whether you’re zoned in the fringe or outside, the same expansion thing applies,” said Hardy, noting that those in urban fringe zoning, due to proximity to the town, they might not allow an expansion.

“With this IDP boundary, whether it’s here or here, the NRCB does not measure to an IDP boundary.”

Hardy reiterated that the IDP boundary was a consultation boundary only; basically, the county is agreeing that they will consult with the town over what happens within that boundary. In cases of a major development in that area, Hardy said the county would need to give notify the town about the application, so they can comment on it.

The only thing the policy would effect is that in a quarter section where there is no new feedlots on land without them, but Hardy said that would just be “reinforcing what is already there” due to the land’s proximity to the town of Picture Butte and the golf course.

“This is a consultation. The guys up in Edmonton said ‘All you little municipalities, get together and put something together’,” said Joe Watson, Picture Butte town councilor.

“We’re thinking, talking agriculture, but think about what’s going on in some of these communities with oil rigs, oil plants, you know oil-whatever-related businesses and all this kind of stuff. So, it’s not just agriculture that’s involved in it. The province says, ‘You guys all get together and put a little bit of a circle around things you’re going to talk about if something happens’, so nobody goes and sticks something on and now you’ve got a war between the county and the town.

“If something were to come up, it would have a to be a sarin gas plant or some dang thing that’s three, four miles out of town before anybody in the town would ever say anything about it.”

Town CAO Keith Davis reminded attendees that a municipality could only make a bylaw for the jurisdiction they governed, and the town has no jurisdiction within the county, so they couldn’t make any rules for that area. As that is county land, any rule changes would come from the county.

Adams asked then is they were still under the county jurisdiction, they why didn’t the county just take this on themselves.

Hardy replied that when a lot of growth was happening in the province — particularly around larger urban centers and their surrounding municipal Districts and Counties — what would happen was a lot of disputes were happening over commercial and industrial developments going on near the cities, which the cities would be made about because when they expanded, they wanted to put residential areas there but can’t because of the industrial sections. In response, the province mandated that they would have to consult one another other what uses were suitable for what areas.

“From the county and town perspective, the main thing they’re addressing here too is looking along 519 and Highway 25 and future growth for the town as well, is they wanted to be putting like-minded uses next to like-minded,” said Hardy.

There was no written submission opposed to the bylaw.

Exiting the public hearing, council passed the second and final readings of the bylaw.

The county’s public hearing on the IDP bylaw goes during their April 19 meeting.

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