Plan drafted to manage land around Chain Lakes

Pressure from the agricultural community has forced Ponoka County to develop a plan that will manage the land around Chain Lakes.

Pressure from the agricultural community has forced Ponoka County to develop a plan that will manage the land around Chain Lakes.

The county felt it was time to draft a land use plan that would be incorporated into its area structure plan after a confined feeding operation was proposed near Chain Lakes two years ago.

“The confined feeding operation application triggered the need to have a plan that is specific to the area and specifies what is eligible to be developed and what is not,” chief administration officer Charlie Cutforth said.

The confined feeding operation application — a large dairy, chicken or livestock enterprise — was shot down. An appeal was later made to the Natural Resources Conservation Board (NRCB) and it was also turned down.

“This created some angst amongst the agriculture community that suddenly Ponoka County is against agriculture and that is not true,” Cutforth said.

“From a planning perspective, it doesn’t make sense to put two conflicting uses in the immediate area because it creates problems.”

A draft plan on how to manage the land around the eight-km-long lakes, which are seven-km southeast of Ponoka and mainly surrounded by low-density, parcel-sized subdivision, has been fashioned by hired consultant, Bob Riddett.

The retired manager of the West Central Planning Agency presented the draft plan at a public open house last Tuesday.

“We got a lot of public input from the agricultural sector, residents and residents who live around the lake,” Cutforth said. “The consultant has gone away with all that input and he is going to re-draft a couple of things and re-draw a some maps and the draft is going to be presented at council’s meeting on June 19.”

Riddett was unavailable to comment.

Cutforth says Ponoka County hopes to have a plan in place by July, following public hearings that are yet to be determined.

He said the county wants to make sure residents know before purchasing the land what rules are in place. He added that the county also wants to make sure there are no environmental impacts to the lakes.

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