The key word in Lacombe County’s new 10-year Municipal Development Plan is “agriculture.”
Earlier this week county council unanimously approved the revised and updated plan and accompanying Land-Use Bylaw, a two-year process, senior planner Anita O’Driscoll said Friday.
The old plan provided a good foundation for the protection of agriculture and the agriculture community in the county — and the new one continues to do that.
The guiding objective of the updated plan was to protect and encourage the county’s strong agricultural community, preserve high quality farmland, encourage responsible subdivision practices and allow for agriculture diversification.
At the same time it helps with protecting natural areas, parks and recreation, economic growth and residential development.
Lacombe County wanted to do a complete review, O’Driscoll said, adding the county continues to have a very strong agricultural community that wants agriculture protected.
A lot of the same ideas were received, some subdivision policies were strengthened to further protect agriculture and the community, she said. While the old plan had one section on agriculture, now its part of the overall development plan.
“Agriculture has been incorporated completely into the Municipal Development Plan,” she said.
The MDP is a comprehensive long-term policy framework for the development and growth of the Lacombe County. It contains policies for existing and future land uses, and the roles and responsibilities of land owners and the county in relation to development.
Agricultural land within the county, which has a population of 10,343 (2016 census), makes up 95 per cent of land use. Agriculture is the primary economic driver. The county had 1,045 farms with $312 million dollars in receipts recorded in 2010. It’s anticipated that in the 2017 census, the county will continue to see indicators of ongoing success in agriculture.
“There is a great understanding for we still have to diversify, we have to be forward thinking, but … it’s important to do that in a very well-thought out way so we can deliver that economic diversification and still protect agriculture.”
There is also a stronger environmental element in the new plan, something one would expect as the environment has come to forefront over the past 10 years more and more, she said.
Lacombe County is fortunate to be part of the Hwy 2 corridor, and able to benefit from industrial and commercial development. The county doesn’t have to vie for it as much. “We just have to make sure that it’s done properly and we create good places that are economically viable,” O’Driscoll said.
The new plan can be viewed and mdp.lacombecounty.com