Big goals for a big area

Preserving the biodiversity of Alberta’s wetlands. Supporting small family farms. Harnessing the full potential of regional tourism in partnership with aboriginal communities. Revisiting forestry and recreational regulations.

Preserving the biodiversity of Alberta’s wetlands. Supporting small family farms. Harnessing the full potential of regional tourism in partnership with aboriginal communities. Revisiting forestry and recreational regulations.

These are some of the things Central Albertans said they wanted to see in the North Saskatchewan Regional Plan, a land management strategy for the area stretching over 85,000 square km from Banff National Park to Provost.

Over 20 people participated in a full-day workshop about the plan in Red Deer on Wednesday and nearly a dozen other members of the public showed up in the evening to peruse the information boards and speak with government officials.

“Alberta is developing at such a rapid rate, just gobbling up valuable farmland and we need to find a way to stop doing that,” said attendee Barb Shepherd, a councillor with Lacombe County. “The big challenge will be implementing the plan when it’s done. It’s just starting.”

The North Saskatchewan is the third of seven plans laid out by the provincial government as part of its land-use framework system. The Lower Athabasca land-use plan is being implemented and the South Saskatchewan plan is nearing finalization. Another one tracing the boundaries of the Red Deer River watershed is expected to begin its process in 2016.

The North Saskatchewan plan is in its final phase of stage one, gathering public input to inform the development of a plan. Red Deer was one of 21 communities visited for consultation. The tour ended on Thursday with a final open house and workshop in Edmonton.

The next step involves creating a Regional Advisory Council, made up of non-governmental representatives, which will make its own recommendations. These will also be available to the public for input, meaning March/April will most likely be the earliest a draft will be ready, said Neal Watson, spokesperson for Environment and Sustainable Resource Development.

The plans are part of a need to respond to rapid and sustained growth across the province, and the need to cumulatively manage that impact, said Watson. They strive to protect the environment at a regional level while maintaining natural resource development and fostering economic growth.

Some outlined priorities of the North Saskatchewan plan are maintaining growth opportunity for key economic sectors, collaborative air quality management, advancing conservation and the integrated management of crown land, and considering the rights of aboriginal people and including them in land-use planning.

“We’re asking people about how we’ve presented our 50-year vision for the plan, what we got right, what is missing, what would you like to see,” said Watson. “So it’s important for all Albertans.”

Bertha Ford of Red Deer took in the open house and said she hopes the government listens to all the feedback. Ford is the volunteer steward for the Kootenay Plains Ecological Reserve and a hiker with the Red Deer Ramblers.

“I think there has to be more regulation … I know the OHV (off-highway vehicle) people need their trails but some of them are out of control,” Ford said. “They go to places in the West Country that really shouldn’t be disturbed.”

Terry Hager, a Lacombe County councillor, said he supports the plan’s vision.

“It has a lot of potential. I question whether or not there is a commitment to follow through with a lot of the ideas they’re looking at. Is there political will to manage and control development, to actually enforce the policies?” he asked.

Albertans have until the end of July to contribute their ideas about the plan. Comments can be submitted online at

Just Posted

Driver who backed into Red Deer pizzeria sentenced

David Andrew Amstutz sentenced for failing to remain at the crash scene

Shaw getting ready to raise prices for its main residential service, CEO says

CALGARY — Residential customers of Shaw Communications Inc. will likely see a… Continue reading

Inflation accelerates as higher airfares, vegetable prices offset cheaper gas

OTTAWA — Canada’s annual inflation rate accelerated to two per cent last… Continue reading

Alberta couple wants cash and charges dropped in meningitis death of their son

CALGARY — An Alberta couple facing a second trial in the meningitis… Continue reading

Moose Jaw wants to challenge Norway for tallest moose statue title

MOOSE JAW, Sask. — The City of Moose Jaw, Sask., is on… Continue reading

Fashion Fridays: Inspirational gym outfits

Kim XO, helps to keep you looking good on Fashion Fridays on the Black Press Media Network

Inflation rises as higher airfares, veggie prices offset cheaper gas

Statistics Canada says inflation accelerated to two per cent in December

Canadian tattoo artist inks Toronto skyline on Blue Jays pitcher Stroman

Marcus Stroman found a way to show his appreciation for Toronto when… Continue reading

Team World sweeps opening day against Team North America at Continental Cup

LAS VEGAS — Team North America has some serious ground to make… Continue reading

SXSW to screen ‘Run This Town,’ which includes Rob Ford character

TORONTO — A drama that features a portrayal of the late Toronto… Continue reading

Fans buy ‘Little House on the Prairie’ star’s memorabilia

GENOA TOWNSHIP, Mich. — More than 200 items belonging to “Little House… Continue reading

Paying down debt should be priority for low income workers, say experts

TORONTO — Investment planning can often be seen as a luxury for… Continue reading

Russian fighter jets collide over Sea of Japan crews eject

One plane crashed after its crew ejected safely, the other crew also ejected but they have not been found

Judge to deliver verdict in British sailor’s gang rape case

The alleged gang rape took place at a Halifax-area military base in 2015

Most Read