An almost full house showed up to Ponoka County’s public hearing on the Highway 2 corridor area structure plan.
The hearing was held Jan. 24 to receive formal feedback from residents regarding the area structure plan (ASP) for land along the west side of Highway 2 from Highway 53 to the southern county border.
Reeve Paul McLauchlin laid out the ground rules, explaining the hearing process is to get thoughts from residents for council to take into consideration during discussions on the bylaw if the ASP is adopted.
Consultant Bob Riddett noted that Alberta Transportation has not yet supplied its final opinion, since it is still negotiating with the county’s engineering consultant regarding the traffic impact assessment.
“When those discussions eventually conclude, we may have to make some minor changes dealing with road access and intersection reconstruction,” he stated.
CAO Charlie Cutforth explained it could take several months for that to happen.
Both Riddett and Cutforth also noted the ASP is a generalized, cursory plan of proposed land uses in the area and that any development would still need county council approval for rezoning and either subdivision or development applications.
“Most rural municipalities use this method — a high level ASP followed by local ASPs for (subdivision or development) proposals to be done by the developers,” said Riddett.
At that point, the members in the gallery were given the chance to participate, where several people spoke.
Two residents dominated the conversation — Ray Reid and Tony Hoffman — both of whom focused on issues that have been at the core since the process began.
“There were a number of people that have come to the area and built a brand new house, including us,” said Hoffman, who resides just west of the land on the southwest side of Highways 2 and 53 that has been proposed for industrial use.
“We took what we thought was a perfect piece of property, not good for farming, and invested in our future (four years ago). At that time, there was no indication there would be any industrial or commercial land nearby. The concern, even with the change to the potential buffer, that developing all of that land will dramatically impact the value of our property, but the quality of our life.”
Hoffman did make a positive suggestion, stating that industrial development should be limited to the land next to Highway 2 in a similar manner to what has been done north of Highway 53, as that would leave an adequate buffer zone from any residents.
Reid meanwhile doesn’t want any development along that stretch.
Buffer zones as well as sewage disposal were also brought up by residents concerned about noise, smell and traffic.
Other ideas raised included Howard Smith stating the county needs to commit to hooking up any industrial and recreational water users to the regional water line to ensure residents on wells won’t have to compete for the resource.
Martha Liedtke was concerned about safety if Township Road 263 from Range Road 422 to Sec. Highway 604 is paved. She worried this would create faster traffic. Karen Douglass felt there was no real buffer zone between development and the Pleasant Hills subdivision.
There is no timeline as to when council will consider second and third reading of the bylaw as they have to wait until they receive a response from Alberta Transportation.