County adopts highway corridor development plan

After months of development, an open house, and revising procedure, Ponoka County council has adopted the Highway II

After months of development, an open house, and revising procedure, Ponoka County council has adopted the Highway II Corridor Development Study as county policy.

The study states more than 23,000 per day travel Highway II through Ponoka County. It was felt, to keep up with development along the rest of the highway, the county should take advantage of this exposure and harness it to attract commercial and industrial activities to the area.

As a result of the open house, more land has been included in the area set for encouraged development. “One is at the Highway 53 and Highway II junction . . . It’s the Don Laing intersection basically,” said planning consultant Bob Riddett.

Also, northeast of the Don Laing area, still west of Highway II, was newly included land.

At the Menaik Road intersection, a landowner in the northeast area of the intersection, asked to be included in the development area. “Those I think are about the only changes we made,” said Riddett.

At the open house Riddett found there were no major objections regarding the land around the intersections being used for development. “Public opinion seems to be pretty well on our side . . . Nobody expressed any concern about loss of agricultural land even though some of it is good land. I think it was felt that the county needs to build a tax base.”

At the same time the study takes into consideration the county’s Municipal Development Plan, which places a high value on protecting valuable farmland with a farmland assessment rating of 30 per cent of higher.

The development plan states: “This policy sets out what may happen, not what must happen. It gives the landowners the option of developing their land for commercial and industrial use, but they may refuse that option and farm their land for as long as they wish. The county will protect that right if it conflicts with other land uses.”

Some landowners looking to get in on the action and annex usable land are being left out for now as the county takes a stance against “leapfrogging.”

“There is a fairly strong statement in the study here, which says we’re not going to leapfrog. You start at the intersection and you develop out . . . We move logically and sequentially,” said Riddett.