Courts to decide regarding Ponoka County’s north-west area structure plan

Ponoka Right To Farm Society versus Ponoka County

The Ponoka Right to Farm Society has adopted a wait and see attitude after appearing before the Court of Queen’s Bench in Wetaskiwin on Feb. 20.

The society took Ponoka County to court to prove the county’s north-west area structure plan is not in accordance with the municipal government act.

However, the judge will reserve his decision until a later date.

”We do not have a time frame to when we will receive his decision, the society said in a press release.

“Our lawyer (Keith Wilson) represented us well and we are optimistic,” added John Hulsman.

Ponoka County CAO Charlie Cutforth said the area structure plan addresses a problem of conflicting land uses in part of Ponoka County lying north west of the Town of Ponoka where increasing the number of confined feeding operations may be incompatible with other existing and future land uses.

But the Ponoka Right to Farm Society say the plan is simply wrong.

“Our mandate is striving for cooperation between all rural residents of Ponoka County; to produce sustainable and responsible agriculture and future development for the benefit of the entire community. We have work diligently to achieve this mandate and now once again we are going to stand up for what is right.

Hulsman claims that CFO exclusion zones outlined in the north west area structure plan will not be beneficial to livestock operations. He added that the bylaw is not necessary because modern livestock operations are already regulated by the Natural Resources Conservation Board (NRCB), and Alberta Environment.

The Ponoka Right to Farm Society was formed in the fall of 2018 by co-founders John Hulsman and Karen Pierik in opposition to the county’s changes to the MDP regarding confined feeding operations.

Ponoka County CAO Charlie Cutforth says the aim of the NWASP is to maintain a balanced land use that exists in the area.

“We want people to live in peace together and we know these CFO operators run excellent operations. We just want them spread out a little better. Council is just trying to find a way to meet the concerns of all the residents.”

As of December, 2019, Ponoka County has expended $35,013.66 on legal fees related to the Right to Farm Society legal challenge, according to Ponoka County CAO Charlie Cutforth.

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