There will be no appeal of Ponoka County’s approval of the Northwest Area Structure Plan (ASP).
An Alberta Court of Queen’s Bench justice in Wetaskiwin denied the right to appeal application from the Ponoka Right To Farm group in a decision released on April 20.
Honourable Justice James Neilson, in his 15-page written ruling, explained that the county acted reasonably in developing, amending and enacting the ASP.
Justice Neilson ruled that both of the arguments put forth by Ponoka Right to Farm — that the county made reviewable errors in both failing to include mandatory content in the ASP that were not practical as well as failing to ensure the ASP was consistent with its Municipal Development Plan (MDP) — failed in two ways.
“The standard of review that must be applied has not been met in this application,” explained Justice Neilson in his analysis. He also noted, “the ASP bylaw is consistent with the County’s MDP” and doesn’t violate the Municipal Government Act.
While dismissing the application, Justice Neilson ordered Ponoka Right To Farm to pay legal costs born by Ponoka County.
Ponoka County Reeve Paul McLauchlin was pleased with the positive ruling, but would rather have not had to enter the ring on this fight in the first place.
“This cannot be necessarily considered a win. The taxpayers of Ponoka County have had to expend $140,000.00 to defend the statutory and fiduciary authority of Ponoka County from members of our own community,” he said in an interview April 23.
“Ponoka County will continue to strive to do what we have been elected to do; to balance the needs for people to make a living with being good neighbours and allowing people to enjoy the peace and enjoyment of our beautiful county. That job, as you can tell by this court case, is not easy.”
A release from Ponoka Right to Farm expressed disappointment in the decision, explained the group of more than 300 members is respectful of the ruling.
“While we would have preferred a different ruling, we, the Board of the Ponoka Right to Farm Society, respect the decision of the Court. At this time we are seeking input from our Society members,” said the release.
“We will continue to lobby to protect the agricultural industry and protect the right to farm.”