Red Deer County is looking at easing regulations to allow confined feeding operations to expand in rural areas previously off limits.
The issue came to council’s attention in April when a hog producer’s proposal to change the scope of the operation came before council.
Municipal politicians favoured the farmer’s plans only to find the county’s Municipal Development Plan (MDP) did not allow for the expansion.
Among the issues is that the hog operation, located about five km west of Gasoline Alley, falls within an exclusion zone where expansion of confined feeding operations or the introduction of new ones is not allowed.
Edwin and Sandra Spruit, of Spruit Farms Ltd., want to change their 811-sow farrow-to-wean operation to a 500-sow farrow-to-finish farm.
The change would mean doubling the existing barn space and twice as much manure would be produced.
Council, which favoured the farmer’s plans, directed planning staff to look at changing the MDP.
Cynthia Cvik, director of planning and development services, said council wants existing CFOs to be allowed to expand within areas designated for agricultural use that are covered by intermunicipal development plans.
Those plans are joint documents between two municipalities to ensure both are on the same planning page.
“Even if it’s in a growth area, (council) is saying if it’s currently ag they should get to expand,” said Cvik.
Planners will make the changes to the document and then take it back to communities covered by intermunicipal development plans for their input. It will then go back to council.
It is actually up to the Natural Resources Conservation Board (NRCB) to approve confined feeding operations. However, municipalities are routinely asked for their views on proposals that may affect them.
Approval officer Scott Cunningham said he is required to abide by the county’s plans before issuing an approval.
Cunningham said he is waiting to see what the county does before he makes a decision on Spruit Farms’ application.