Better planning ahead on roads for Ponoka County

Rezoning approval sparks need to look into infrastructure planning

Growing opposition to potential new subdivisions in Ponoka County has council looking forward at how it will need to plan for the future.

It was the approval of a rezoning application from agriculture to country residential hobby farm for a property along Wooddale Road (Township Rd. 424) and east of Range Road 15 that prompted county administration and council to accept the fact that changes will need to be made soon in its planning on land use and its infrastructure needs.

The property, just shy of 160 acres and surrounded by other multi-lot subdivisions, will now move on to the application stage for a multi-lot subdivision following council determining the new zoning was appropriate. That determination came after staff noted the land is within the area designated for multi-lot development in the West Gull Lake Outline Plan.

The primary arguments from those opposed included the loss of wildlife habitat in the area, the often times poor condition of the gravel on Wooddale Road and the fact there are many subdivisions nearby as well as in the region that have numerous lots available for sale.

“When does it stop? I know it is a high traffic area, but when do we say no to more acreages,” said resident Pam Vermette.

Coun. Mark Matejka countered that by stating the potential is already there for “a whole lot more development with the existing subdivisions, so the traffic is perhaps irrelevant to any concerns over this development.”

He added that subdivisions such as where Vermette lives also drove out wildlife, “but now you are asking someone else to protect what you protruded on?”

CAO Charlie Cutforth stated the county has struggled for years with the idea of added subdivision inventory to an already saturated market.

“The one thing missing that is missing is that we have done nothing to plan on how the road infrastructure is going to accommodate all of this development. A lot of the roads in that area and others are marginal for the amount of traffic,” he said.

“As more development occurs and we continue to approve more development with no plan to upgrade them, we have to assume it’s true that people will expect those roads to be paved eventually.”

Reeve Paul McLauchlin agreed and said maybe the county needs to revisit its overall land use and planning documents so the county doesn’t get caught.

Cutforth agreed that it would be best to be proactive on this and deal with roads when it has the funds, plus it would show residents the county has some plans in place.

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