A map of the Ponoka County Morningside ASP showing areas for residential development and the various regions that would be excluded from new future CFOs. Image: Ponoka County

Residents speak out in favour of Morningside area structure plan

Ponoka County’s proposed land use plan finds high approval rating among acreage owners

There was significant uproar heard by Ponoka County council at the second public hearing related to proposed exclusion zones in Ponoka County.

This time it was for the area structure plan (ASP) for the Morningside area — running from Highway 2 to the Secondary Highway 815 and between Highway 53 and the county’s southern border. The hearing took place Oct. 2 at 1 p.m. at the Ponoka Legion and attracted a number of residents from that area.

There is one big difference from the Northwest ASP, that being about half of plan area for Morningside already has a CFO development restriction in place due to a two mile exclusion zone around the Town of Ponoka.

First out of the block was Rick Wyrozub, who felt the plan was a good idea given the growing trend of larger farms. He suggests the smaller family farms are in jeopardy.

“(Supply management) was instituted to benefit the small family farms, but is now only serving an elite few,” he said, noting what he feels was arrogant tone by CFO proponents at the open house on the plans Aug. 13.

“Their attitude was they had a mission to feed the world and that the acreage owners need to get out of their way. This entitlement isn’t an act, and shockingly I’ve been told to move away if I didn’t like agriculture.”

Another supporter of the plan felt the ASP was carefully and thoroughly researched and they hoped that council realizes just how important this plan is to the county’s future.

“This plan balances the interests of everyone, including farmers and allows for sustained growth while still protecting our diverse interests,” said Jessie Wiart, noting the plan still demonstrates the support for agriculture that the county has always touted.

“As well, it seems reasonable that any plan (for Morningside) should continue to allow subdivisions. And because of this residential development that is taxed at a higher rate, it ends up benefiting everyone.”

There were also a number of speakers in favour of the plan as it would limit further degradation of the roads by restricting the amount of heavy trucks and other traffic and help maintain the current ground water levels by eliminating expansion by CFOs that have the potential of drawing lots of water from possibly already depleted aquifers.

On the other side of the fence, there were folks not wanting to see such a strict exclusion plan in the area.

Harry Makkinga, who operates a feed lot in the area and is the chair for the Right to Farm Society, noted that his operation has meet every requirement, giving the neighbour all consideration and that the ASP is “an attack” on agriculture in this county.

“We’ve done everything right and now we have to listen to this to — that we are damaging the land around us, be accused of lowering (land) values,” Makkinga said.

He added there is going to have to be a boundary somewhere and that his group isn’t about being divisive, but rather working together as a community to co-exist.

“I can’t see why we have to attack each other, and that’s how I take this, as an attack against us because we are the CFO everyone is talking about,” Makkinga said, adding he hasn’t had any neighbours come and speak to him.

“Look at yourself, if this plan was targeted at acreage owners, how would they react? Would they sit by and let it happen?”

All of the comments were to be taken into consideration by council during a discussion of the ASP bylaw that was held at council’s Oct. 9 meeting. As of press time, it wasn’t known if any changes were made prior to passage of the ASP.


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