Mountain View County approves moratorium on development in floodways

A contentious temporary moratorium on development in floodways along a stretch of the Red Deer River has been approved by Mountain View County council.

A contentious temporary moratorium on development in floodways along a stretch of the Red Deer River has been approved by Mountain View County council.

Before being passed, council reduced the size of the area affected by new development rules based on the recently completed McDougal Flats Flood Hazard Study prepared for Alberta Environmental Sustainable Resource Development by Calgary-based Golder Associates.

County Coun. Al Kemmere said the initial moratorium area was based on the study area to be examined by consultants.

Once detailed reviews of the area’s topography, water flows and historical flooding data was pulled together for the draft study, the floodway (areas most at risk of flooding) were more clearly defined.

“The moratorium is now based on numbers that we’ve got in an additional draft document to support,” he said. “We can substantiate our position better, I guess is the way to look at it.”

The changes mean an area that has seen significant residential development in the McDougal Flats area is no longer included in the floodway. Coyote Creek Golf and RV Resort, a small subdivision to the south and parts of Molmac subdivision remain in the floodway.

Much of the opposition council heard was from residents who felt their homes were not in an area that had flooded previously — and was not expected to flood in the future — and should not have been included in the original map.

An initial public hearing at council chambers on Oct. 9 went five hours and heard from two dozen people. The hearing was reconvened last Wednesday to gather more feedback.

The bylaw passed following that hearing puts on a moratorium on rezoning, subdivision and development approval in the area identified as a floodway. Developments under construction or where subdivision has already been approved can go ahead.

Restrictions are in place until Feb. 28, 2015. At that time, the province is expected to have approved an official flood map for the area. Around the same time, new regulations are expected from the province to back up Bill 27, legislation introduced to tighten up development rules after severe flooding in the 2013 summer.

Municipalities must then ensure their regulations comply with provincial rules.

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