Town, county closer to shared growth plan

Richard Froese
South Peace News

Big Lakes County and the Town of High Prairie are another step closer to finalizing an inter-municipal development plan.

At its regular meeting June 12, county council postponed second and final readings for the IDP until after a public hearing.

Council was concerned at its May 29 meeting about the wide IDP area and referred the plan back to the joint county-town IDP review committee to reduce the size.

Public reaction was quiet as nobody attended the hearing.

“We received no submissions,” says Pat Olansky, director of planning and development.

Council approved a recommendation by Olansky to delay second and final reading until the county and town agree on the boundaries of the IDP map.

County council also passed a motion for a preferred IDP map, which reduces the boundaries.

North Gilwood – Triangle Councillor Ken Matthews and South Sunset House – Gilwood Councillor Ann Stewart voted against the preferred map option.

“To me it’s still too big,” Matthews says.

That was echoed by Stewart.

“We want it made smaller, we want just the minimum,” she says.

Matthews says he is also concerned that highway commercial and industrial districts suggested along Highway 2 west of town interfere with current residential properties.

CAO Jordan Panasiuk says the proposed land-use can still be reviewed.

“Development in this IDP area will benefit the town and the county,” Panasiuk says.

Olansky notes that High Prairie council tabled the IDP at its regular meeting June 11 to get more information.

Three council members from each municipality serve on the committee.

“There can be no losers here,” says Grouard Councillor Fern Welch, who serves on the committee.

She adds it’s time to get rid of the “we and they” attitude.

Two councillors say plans for a multiplex should be deleted from the document.

“I don’t think it should be in there,” Stewart says.

“It’s someone’s dream,” Kinuso Councillor Ken Killeen says.

The draft IDP suggests the municipalities create a joint committee to champion the task of pursuing a recreational and cultural multiplex at the appropriate time.

Matthews agrees.

“We have to start looking at replacing some of our facilities 25 years down the road,” Matthews says.

“Some of our facilities will come to a time when they will need to be replaced.”

He says it’s time to start planning sooner rather than later.

The IDP encourages the county and the town to co-operate to promote growth to benefit both municipalities.

Economic development and preserving agricultural land in the IDP area are priorities for Big Lakes and High Prairie.

Annexation of county lands by the town for residential uses will not be considered until all developable parcels are utilized in the town’s boundaries.

Copies of the draft IDP bylaw are available at the county office in High Prairie and online at www.biglakes county.ca.

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