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Contentious revised South McDougal Flats ASP approved

Certain concerns raised during the public hearing fell outside of municipal jurisdiction, reeve said
ASP steering committee members Cindy Iverson and Greg Campkin talk during the public hearing. Screenshot

MOUNTAIN VIEW COUNTY - In a split decision, council has approved an updated area structure plan (ASP) for the South McDougal Flats area.

The move came by way of motions following a public hearing at the March 27 regularly-scheduled council meeting, held in person and online.

The ASP provides direction on the future use, subdivision and development within the plan area west of Sundre. 

A steering committee made up of public members, industry representatives and elected officials oversaw the review process, with a total of 16 committee meetings and two public engagement sessions held over 22 months.

Changes from the 2010 ASP Bylaw No. 02/10 relate to agriculture and low density areas, residential areas, recreational areas, industrial and highway commercial corridor areas, natural resource development, and other things.

Regarding natural resource extraction, for example, the ASP states that, “To support progressive reclamation and reduce offsite impacts, all applications for new gravel pits or expanding gravel pits shall include a phasing plan and limit the disturbed areas, excluding access roads, to a maximum of 30 acres at any one time.”

The ASP also includes a variation in the size of future county residential parcels, accommodating options for parcels of up to 15 acres, and a phasing plan limiting disturbed aggregate extraction areas to 30 acres.

During the public hearing, a number of McDougal Flats landowners spoke in opposition to approving the new plan, with several calling for further consultation and study.

McDougal Flats resident Christina McCharles said, in part, “Where is your disaster planning for wildfires, droughts and floods and emergency evacuations? Your ASP is missing all kinds of components.”

McDougal Flats resident Neil Konner said, in part, “This bylaw is being used to exploit more gravel pits in the South McDougal Flats area plain and simple. We have eight gravel pits in the area and this is enough.

“We want a moratorium on gravel pits in the South McDougal Flats area to be noted in this bylaw. The Mountain View County is in the gravel business and is promoting a biased area structure plan in their favour.”

The public hearing also saw a number of letters received, including from resident Thomas White who stated, in part, “This area structure plan seems to be fast-tracked with not enough landowner input.”

In an open letter presented to council, Konner, McCharles and several other area residents called for an “immediate pause” of the ASP.

Coun. Peggy Johnson put forward a motion stating: “That the public hearing for the bylaw No, 01/24 South McDougal Flats ares structure plan be deferred until a date to be established by council no sooner than November 2024 to allow for additional information to be considered.”

Speaking to the motion, Coun. Johnson said, “I think that I’ve heard some angst from people within the area structure plan area that they are very concerned about water.”

Coun. Greg Harris, who is a member of the steering committee, said the public members on the committee have “represented the area well” and a delay was unwarranted.

Council defeated Johnson’s motion, with councillors Johnson and Gord Krebs voting in favour.

After the public hearing closed, council voted to give second and third reading to Bylaw No. 01/24 - South McDougal Flats area structure plan, with councillors Johnson and Kerbs voting against and councillors Dwayne Fulton, Alan Miller, Jennifer Lutz, Harris and reeve Angela Aalbers voting in favour.

Following the vote, reeve Aalbers said certain concerns raised during the public hearing, such as those related to water and temporary diversion licences, fall outside municipal jurisdiction.

“Mountain View County commits to supporting residents and landowners by connecting them with relevant provincial authorities for addressing their concerns,” Aalbers told the Albertan.

“Recognizing the concerns of residential and agricultural water users, particularly in anticipation of the 2024 drought season, county council emphasizes the long-term nature of ASPs, as land use planning documents span over multiple drought/flood cycles. 

“The ASP outlines potential future land uses without mandating land redesignations, as any redesignations must be initiated by landowners or their representatives and adhere to the process outlined in the Municipal Government Act (MGA), requiring a public hearing prior to a decision of council.”

The complete South McDougal Flats area structure plan 2024 is available for viewing on the county’s website.

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