Red Deer County plans to lobby other municipalities to ease restrictions on the expansion of confined feeding operations.
Amendments approved on Tuesday to the county’s Municipal Development Plan allow the county to support expansion of feeding operations, under certain conditions, in agriculture-zoned areas covered by intermunicipal development plans (IDP).
Intermunicipal plans are created to ensure neighbouring jurisdictions are on the same page when it comes to future development.
The problem is the IDPs with Innisfail, Sylvan Lake and Bowden don’t allow new or expanded confined feeding operations in the areas covered by the plans — even in areas zoned agricultural.
Mayor Jim Wood said the county plans to meet with the three municipalities to discuss amending those plans.
It is up to the province’s Natural Resources Conservation Board to give the final approval on feeding operation expansions; but the board will not approve without county support.
Under previous regulations, new feeding operations were not allowed, nor was expansion of existing ones in areas — which can be quite large — covered by any intermunicipal plans.
Municipalities are already protected from confined feeding operations growing to their doorstep by provincial regulations that create a one-mile (1.6-km) exclusion zone around communities. Those are not affected by the county changes.
Problems with the current approach were brought to light earlier in the year when a hog producer about five km west of Gasoline Alley wanted to change a 811-sow farrow-to-wean operation to a 500-sow farrow-to-finish farm.
Under existing planning documents, the county could not support the application, despite otherwise finding no fault with the hog producer’s plans.
The changes just approved allow the county to support expansion in intermunicipal plan areas not in exclusion zones or considered urban fringe.
The City of Red Deer has already said it is on board with the changes.
Wood said the county’s move will be good for livestock producers looking to expand.
“I think we made some positive changes today.”
Changes do not affect regulations prohibiting new confined feeding operations setting up in IDP zones.