MOUNTAIN VIEW COUNTY - A joint public hearing is scheduled for September 14 to consider proposed changes to the county’s municipal development plan (MDP) and the land use bylaw (LUB) related to renewable energy development on agricultural lands.
The proposed amendments are being made to update the county’s legislation to provide clear direction to developments and landowners where renewable energy development may be supported in the county, officials said.
“The county is considering changes to our land use bylaw regarding renewable energy projects in order to protect agricultural lands,” reeve Angela Aalbers told the Albertan. “We understand the government’s mandate for green energy development, however we are trying to find a balance between two important industries (renewable energy and agriculture) that have potential for land competition.
“We know that the Alberta Utilities Commission (AUC) does not have to include municipalities in their approval process for renewable energy projects. However, we are taking a proactive look at this in hopes that the AUC will have regard for our statutory plans when making decisions and that we can provide land use guidance that will strengthen their decision making process, ensuring the best possible use of our valuable land base.”
The proposed change to the MDP would add policies that rely on existing policy criteria and mapping already established to direct renewable energy development to areas of lower-class soils and not environmentally significant areas.
Renewable energy projects may be acceptable within established economic nodes and growth centres.
“We are aware of companies approaching land owners in the county, and administration has received inquires from companies,” said Jeff Holmes, the county's chief administrative officer.
“The MDP identifies that agricultural preservation is paramount in Mountain View County and policies limit subdivision potential and direct non-agricultural uses to minimize the impact on agricultural operations. There is no specific policy that addresses renewable energy development.”
No changes are proposed to individual systems, with the LUB definition of ‘alternative/renewable energy, individual” meaning a use that produces energy that is generated from an alternative or renewable source and that is generally derived form natural and/or non-traditional sources such as solar, water, wind and waste. That energy is primarily utilized and consumed onsite.
The Sept. 14 public hearing will take place at the county office.