How Ponoka County and the Town of Rimbey deal with planning issues along their boundary has been officially finalized.
Both municipal councils passed third reading of their respective bylaws on April 23 following public hearings at each meeting regarding the agreements that were made mandatory by the provincial government last year.
County CAO Charlie Cutforth explained the layout of the Intermunicipal Development Plan (IDP) simply underscores what the town and county have been doing for many years.
“What this is all about is ensuring each municipality communicates with the other, just like a good neighbour would, with regards to potential development within a specified area,” Cutforth said.
The area Cutforth spoke of is about 1.5 miles from Rimbey’s current border. Any proposed development in that zone by the county or any proposal in town that may impact the county would then generate a notice to the other municipality for any comment on the proposal.
However, as Cutforth pointed out in the public hearing portion, “This is not intended to change the way people work or operate on their property.”
He added that allowing one municipality to provide comment on a development proposal only means those concerns would be taken under consideration during a public hearing.
“The final determination on any development will still be made by that municipality,” stated Cutforth.
Council did ask Brian Austrom, consultant from Vicinia Planning hired by both municipalities to assist with the IDP, what the timeline would be on having to respond to a request for comment.
Austrom noted the IDP points out a response must come within 30 days of when the referral was issued, which he said was the minimum standard across much of the province as there are certain timelines municipalities must meet during the development permit process.
As well, during the public hearing, there was one question posed about land surrounding the Blindman River and whether this deal would impact those lands.
Austrom explained the land could remain being used as it is currently and the IDP would only affect the land if there were to be a change in the usage of the property that would warrant a development permit to be issued or would be restricted by provincial regulations.
The two municipalities will now get to work on the second mandatory agreement, the Intermunicipal Collaboration Framework, which outlines how the county and the town cooperate on operations, what will remain separate as well as how different services such as recreation are to be funded.