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Mandatory minimum penalties proposed in land use bylaw review

Public submissions on Mountain View County's land use bylaw being accepted until Feb. 5, 2024

MOUNTAIN VIEW COUNTY - The first of three open houses being held by Mountain View County as part of a project to update the municipality’s land use bylaw attracted about 250 people, with written comments received on the proposed changes.

Held in conjunction with the Harvest Lunch community luncheon at the county office, the open house saw guests speak with staff and view more than a dozen placards outlining the proposed amendments to the legislation.

Changes to the bylaws require three bylaw readings by council and a public hearing. Other open houses are planned for the Bergen Hall on Dec. 7 and for the Lone Pine Hall on Jan. 8.

As part of the review, public comments can be submitted online, at the three open houses and/or in person at the county office. Submissions are being received until Feb. 5, 2024, with the comment forms available on the county’s website.

The bylaw is divided into various zoning districts, including agriculture, country residential, residential farmstead, local commercial, business park, heavy industry, aggregate extraction/processing, parks and conservation, institutional, educational and culture, airport, and direct control.

The goal of the review is to identify and provide amendments to the bylaw to ensure alignment of statutory plans polices and identify items requiring further review. The review is part of the 2023 work program for planning and development, and has so far included council workshops in May and August.

“The recommended changes to the land use bylaw are intended to provide clarification and clear interpretation when applicants apply and administration reviews applications,” said Jessica Ross, assistant director of planning and development services for Mountain View County.

Regarding offences and fines, it is proposed that minimum penalties be included in all zoning districts.

The proposed amendment states: “Should a person be convicted of a bylaw offence and the bylaw only has specified penalties listed, a judge has the discretion to lower the fine amount substantially. 

“If the bylaw is drafted with minimum penalties included, the judge is not able to lower the fine to an amount less than the minimum penalty listed. Penalties should be imposed based on the seriousness of the offence committed.”

Regarding shipping containers (also called sea cans), it is recommended that an amendment be made to the county residential district to allow for the placement of one sea can in R-CR (1) with the issuance of a development permit.

An amendment is proposed to add recreational vehicles as exempt temporary accommodations within the agricultural district, the agricultural 2 district, and residential farmstead district in conjunction with an agricultural operation to allow of alternative, temporary accommodations typically required on a seasonal basis.

An amendment is proposed to dwelling, prefabricated general use regulations that units older than 20 years shall be considered a discretionary use, unless the residence is the primary dwelling on an undivided agricultural zoned quarter section.

The county is reviewing a proposed reduction to the current setbacks for farm buildings and exempt use accessory buildings. The reduction is proposed due to the amount of setback relaxation requests the county has received and to minimize land taken out of agricultural production for the placement of the structures.

There is a proposal to add a definition of “agriculture” to the bylaw identical to that in the municipal development plan. It reads: agriculture means science, art, or occupation concerned with cultivating land, raising crops, and feeding, breeding and raising livestock, and is also known as the practice of farming.

The county is requesting feedback from the community to determine the definition of stripping, grading and re-contouring to added to all districts. It includes the movement of soil, sand, rock gravel and other materials from a parcel and redistribution onto another parcel elsewhere in or out of the county.

The county is seeking feedback from the community on whether short term rentals should be included in the land use bylaw.

The county is proposing that Event Centre be added to the parks and recreational district.

Dan Singleton

About the Author: Dan Singleton

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