Lacombe County has agreed to co-sponsor a pair of resolutions supporting reviews of high speed rail and the way that First Nations are consulted on developments.
Mountain View County is concerned about the potential impact of a high-speed rail line between Edmonton and Calgary. In a resolution proposed for the Alberta Association of Municipal Districts and Counties fall conference, the county notes that a route along Hwy 2 could cut off municipalities from future growth areas and jeopardize future efforts to expand tax bases.
Crossings for high-speed rail could also pose a safety concern if not placed in the appropriate areas with alternate traffic routes provided. Those routes should not be built at the expense of rural taxpayers, the county adds.
It is suggested that the association’s transportation committee study the potential impact of high-speed rail on rural areas.
Councillor Cliff Soper said he’s heard options on purchasing land along the route have already been signed and how it could affect rural areas needs studying.
“If I had the opportunity, I would speak strongly in favour at that meeting.”
Lacombe County Councillor Rod McDermand said it is unclear whether a high-speed rail corridor would also become a major utilities route.
“On the other hand, I think high-speed rail is pie in the sky and a long way off.”
Also, Clearwater County proposed a resolution for the Alberta Association and Municipal Districts and Counties annual meeting asking the province to make it clear what sort of consultation with First Nations is required on projects that potentially impact native communities.
The resolution also suggests that a “‘one-window,’ multi-departmental First Nations consultative process be implemented that provides for fair and timely decisions.”
The county raised the issue after it was told that consultation done with First Nations members on a sewage lagoon for Nordegg, which had been accepted by Alberta Environment, was considered inadequate by another government department.
That delayed approvals by a third department.
The province has stated in its new Land Use Framework that First Nations are to be consulted in land use planning, but it is not clear what sort of consultation is expected.
The county hopes to have the resolution discussed when the counties and municipal districts meet from Nov. 16 to 19 in Edmonton.
While Lacombe County has not run into those kinds of issues, council agreed to co-sponsor the resolution to move it to the next stage of the process. A committee will review the resolution to see if it will be included in the fall conference.