The Ponoka Right to Farm Society issued a release Dec. 12 in advance of its court date at the Wetaskiwin Court of Queen’s Bench on Dec. 19 where they will present their case against Ponoka County’s Area Structure Plan (ASP).
The society opposes both the county’s ASP and its Municipal Development Plan (MDP).
“These policies place arbitrary restrictions that hurt family farms, businesses, and the entire community,” the statement says.
“We hope for an outcome that will protect our right to farm.”
The group feels the ASP and MDP “negatively impact the right to farm, which has severe repercussions on everyone” and calling for people to support them.
It’s been a difficult harvest season for many, and the society says, “We have harvested what we could and many of us are thinking about the year to come. As we consider what seed to purchase or fertilizer to order before year end, we also consider the impact our governing bodies have on our ability to provide sustainable agriculture into the future.”
The Ponoka Right to Farm Society was formed in the fall of 2018 by co-founders John Hulsman and Karen Pierik, in part in response to the county’s changes to its MDP regarding confined feeding operations (CFOs).
The society issued a letter of intent to Ponoka County on Feb. 15, 2019, stating they were going to file a claim in the Court of Queen’s Bench to combat the bylaw.
To-date, the 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.
“We simply hope it rules such that all residents will be able to live in a balanced community where everybody can live in peace with each other,” said Cutforth via email Dec. 13.
“It has never been our intention to favour one group of residents over another. Provincial legislation has always given municipalities the authority to direct land use and we will see if the courts agree.”