Amid the uproar over a pair of area structure plans, Ponoka County’s amendments to it’s Municipal Development Plan (MDP) drew many of the same arguments from both sides of the issue.
The bylaw amendment makes just a couple of changes — adding land designated as CFO exclusion zones in an area structure plan to the already established exclusion areas for new CFOs and a request to have very strict conditions imposed by the NRCB on manure storage and handling in the Chain Lakes and the Maskwa Creek watershed which helps supply the City of Wetaskiwin with water.
A public hearing on Oct. 2 was not as well attended as the two hearings earlier in the day on the two area structure plans.
Reeve Paul McLauchlin explained that the purpose of this hearing was to discuss any changes to the MDP and not rehash the issues that had been presented in the two previous public hearings earlier that day.
He added the amendment is about incorporating the area structure plans (ASP) into the MDP in whichever form they may take if approved. The ASPs were due to be discussed at that council meeting, but the result of that discussion was not available at press time.
McLauchlin also noted that any of the evidence and speeches from the previous hearings would be taken into account by council. He said if anyone wished to speak they should provide something new that hasn’t been heard before.
However, that didn’t put a halt to many of those that wanted to ensure their voices were heard again, nor did it deter people from dredging up topics from earlier in the day.
One question from John Hulsman asked for clarity on some wording that seemed to indicate that the county could apply an exclusion zone to any future land use plan. He also wanted to know more about the buffer zone outlined in the Morningside area.
CAO Charlie Cutforth noted that any future area structure plan would need to go through the same public hearing process as now, plus a further public hearing process would be held to make the necessary amendment to the MDP.
“There is no difference, with the existing (CFO) operations, they are allowed to continue and only one that would be allowed to expand because the other is already within the Town of Ponoka exclusion zone,” noted Cutforth.
“The purpose of the proposed buffer is to create that separation between the congestion of acreage development and the potential number of CFOs. We don’t know what those numbers may or not be, so we thought this would be a great opportunity to eliminate that potential future issues.”
The county was also quizzed by one resident, Morena Stamm, regarding what evidence was used to come up with these plans.
“I found the terminology used interesting,” she stated.
“If this bylaw does go through, then I believe the wording needs to be changed to something positive. To create this undue negative environment doesn’t create what we want in the future. We want a community working together proactively and positively.”