One bylaw has been approved while the rest are going to have to wait as further information is gathered.
Ponoka County council, at its Oct. 9 meeting, passed the final two readings for the Morningside area structure plan (ASP) bylaw after making one more amendment. It should be noted that Coun. Mark Matejka recused himself from talking or voting on this issue.
However, much to the dismay of a packed public gallery, decisions and discussion of the bylaws for the North West ASP and revisions to the county’s Municipal Development Plan (MDP) were deferred pending more clarity.
The deferral came at the recommendation of CAO Charlie Cutforth, who presented council with an overview of what’s taken place the past two months and how the county should proceed.
“These plans were not and never were intended to be about science, data or research. They are simply about people — all people,” he stated.
“I agree that there is polarization and this situation could be described as a mess. I believe it started 16 years ago when the provincial government legislated and the NRCB subsequently regulated that the concerns and objections from neighbours to CFOs were not to be considered in the approval process.”
He added this ‘mess’ has since been pushed onto municipalities as the NRCB has changed policies and the county had hoped to simply ‘balance’ the issue and create certainty. However, the county was wrong in thinking people would understand and listen to each other.
Council was asked to endorse the Morningside ASP — with a request to the Town of Ponoka to relax its two-mile exclusion zone that currently restricts one area dairy from any further expansion. It was also proposed that the other two bylaws be set aside until administration can confirm the location and status of past and grandfathered CFOs in the North West ASP to ensure all operations are protected.
Coun. Doug Weir agreed that the county and residents have little to no say and that the ASPs are a tool to provide some viewpoint into the process.
“We are taking the grey area out of the process and giving concerned citizens a seat at the table,” he said.
“The county has the responsibility to represent everyone equally and fairly. By passing the Morningside ASP, is just an extension of what we have been operating under in the past.”
Meanwhile, Reeve Paul McLauchlin added, despite all the talk out there, the county is the best venue to regulate land usage.
“This is just about compatible land uses and the reality is it came before us because it wasn’t taking care of itself,” he said.
“I want to commend our administration in an excellent job and they have my full confidence.”