DIDSBURY - An online open house has been held for the proposed updated intermunicipal development plan (IDP) between the Town of Didsbury and Mountain View County (MVC).
“We will take into account the comments we heard at the hearing,” said MVC reeve Bruce Beattie. “There may be some more discussion at the intermunicipal collaboration committee level and then we will see if there are any changes that need to be made.”
The plan is a formal, statutory planning document focused on land use and development decisions in the plan area, setting out areas for potential future annexation. The plan includes fringe and referral areas on the town-county boundary.
It will guide future growth and development, focus on setting clear expectations and agreements around how development will proceed in the plan area, and how infrastructure requirements accommodate development in the plan area.
Key objectives of the plan include “preservation and protection of environmentally significant areas, provide local context for land use decision, enable both parties to jointly consider the effects that any development in one municipality might have on the others, promote effectiveness, efficiency, and transparency in coordinating intermunicipal services, facilities and infrastructure.”
The fringe areas in the plan are those lands in the county that will be set aside to accommodate further growth of the town over the next 40 years. Those land may be annexed into the town to accommodate the need for residential, commercial and industrial lands as need emerges.
The referral area includes lands in the county that are not intended to accommodate future town expansion over the next 40 years. The referral area includes lands defined as economic node, which are lands suitable for commercial and industrial developments.
Under the plan certain policies apply to the fringe and referral areas, including related to agriculture, environment, infrastructure, economic development and land use.
One person who called in during the May 26 open house had questions about plans for roads currently in the fringe area.
“If you are going to annex land for a certain developer, maybe you can get them to commit to upgrading a road or drainage or sewer or whatever they have to do to make that more cost effective for the town,” he said.
Another caller expressed concerns about potential service costs that may follow annexation under the updated plan.
“I guess one of our concerns is that we would be told by the town to connect to water and sewer systems at our expense,” she said. “That is a huge concern for myself and others in this area.”
Didsbury chief administrative officer Ethan Gorner said, “We can’t really speak to hypotheticals because there are whole bunch of unknowns that relate to that. Obviously if the time ever comes down the road that we would even be looking at such a thing it would be because there would be a whole bunch of other factors and reason.
“Doing an annexation is a difficult thing and you have to make a very compelling case to the province to ensure these things aren’t done frivolously.”
A public hearing would have to be held before councils could consider adopting the new IDP.
The complete proposed plan is available for viewing on the county’s website.`
MVC is mandated under the updated provincial Municipal Government Act to enter into IDPs with 11 neighbouring municipalities. The Didsbury and county IDP is the last one still be adopted.