Residents weigh in on county development plans

Big Lakes County presented the third draft of the municipal development plan and land-use bylaw during an open house Nov. 23 in Joussard. Left-right, are Reeve Ken Matthews showing the future land-use map for the county with Pat Olansky, director of planning and development, and consultant Jocelyn Whaley of V3 Companies of Canada.
Big Lakes County presented the third draft of the municipal development plan and land-use bylaw during an open house Nov. 23 in Joussard. Left-right, are Reeve Ken Matthews showing the future land-use map for the county with Pat Olansky, director of planning and development, and consultant Jocelyn Whaley of V3 Companies of Canada.

Richard Froese
South Peace News
Big Lakes County presented its third draft land-use bylaw and municipal development plan during an open house Nov. 23 in Joussard.

Ideas and concerns were shared as 18 citizens and property owners discussed the draft documents at Joussard Community Hall.

“The biggest issue I heard was bylaw enforcement,” Reeve Ken Matthews says.

One woman suggests the county have a bylaw enforcement officer.

Currently, the county has a contract with the Town of High Prairie for part-time bylaw enforcement services, he says.

“We would have to discuss it as a council,” Matthews says.
“There’s no use in having bylaws if you don’t enforce them.”

Enforcement in hamlets was a main concern from residents that has been addressed in the draft land-use bylaw, says consultant Jocelyn Whaley of
V3 Companies of Canada as she outlined the changes.

Council was encouraged with the participation of citizens.

“There were good questions and input,” Matthews says.
“It’s good to see the interest, that’s what we need.”

Draft bylaws are expected to be presented to council for first reading in December with a public hearing in January or February, says Pat Olansky, director of planning and develop- ment.

Both draft plans are total rewrites, not just updates from 2012, the last time they were reviewed, Matthews says.

“This MDP was created to reflect the changing growing dynamics and direction of the county since the current MDP was adopted in 2010,” states the introduction in the MDP.

A significant new land-use has been added to the bylaw.

Licensed marijuana production facilities have been introduced in industrial districts as a discretionary use, highly regulated under Health Canada.

Medicinal marijuana facility was also added to the Town of High Prairie updated land-use bylaw in 2014.

Growth in tourism and alternative energy in the county are key drivers suggested in the draft MDP to help sustain the future.

“The county’s natural environment provides many opportunities for outdoor tourism activities,” the MDP states.
“An analysis of tourism trends in the region indicates several opportunities for potential growth in this sector.”

More fixed-roof accommodations such as hotels and motels are needed, along with a balance of campground sites with marinas and lake access, marketing and promotion, and creating partnerships with aboriginal communities and regional bodies to support tourism ex- pansion.

With the sagging economy, the MDP suggests the county develop an alternative energy sector as opportunities arise.

Agriculture and preserving farmland remain top priorities for the county and the provincial government.

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