Town of HP, county reach a compromise

The map shows the proposed boundaries in the inter-municipal development plan for Big Lakes County around the Town of High Prairie. Big Lakes council wanted the IDP area smaller as indicated by the dotted line.

Richard Froese
South Peace News

Big Lakes County and the Town of High Prairie have agreed to a smaller area for an inter-municipal development plan (IDP).

At its regular meeting Sept. 11, county council approved a new revised map recommended by the internal review committee.

“It’s a really good compromise,” Big Lakes Reeve Richard Simard says.

The boundary down to High Prairie Airport on Highway 749 is also reduced.

“The option removes the highway commercial future land use from the west end of the IDP area,” says Pat Olansky, director of planning and development.

Several members of county council expressed concern about the zoning at the council meeting Aug. 14.

Now the new map is a positive move, staff says.

“It maintains good relations with the Town of High Prairie moving forward,” Olansky says.

“It also avoids mediation and possible arbitration and lawyer fees.”

If the issue isn’t settled in soon, it could lead to mediation and arbitration that could cost $20,000 to $100,000, Olansky said at the meeting Aug. 14.

Council was advised by CAO Jordan Pana- siuk to avoid that.

“There are no special powers given to the town,” Panasiuk says.

“This would be a silly thing to go to arbitration for.”

Olansky agreed.

“Mediation and arbitration processes are lengthy and expensive,” Olansky says.

“The county will likely pay the lion’s share of the cost and may not be successful based on what other municipalities have in place for IDP boundaries.”

Legal fees and other costs would be added to that, she notes.

Preserving farmland is a priority in the plan.

Priorities for land use are proposed for development in the draft IDP include:

Agricultural: preserve prime agricultural land north and south of the town boundary.

Country Residential: expand existing country residential development next to town lands.

Highway Commercial: promote highway commercial development along Highway 2 east of the town.

Industrial: expand industrial uses in the west industrial area structure plan west of the town boundary; add industrial uses west of West Fraser; and, expand potential industrial development on Highway 2 east of the town.

Recreation: maintain county recreational lands.

The final draft IDP and bylaw is scheduled to be presented to Big Lakes council to adopt at its meeting Oct. 9.

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