A new bill aiming to make Alberta municipalities better stewards of the land is being praised for finally coming after years of some questionable development in Central Alberta.
Red Deer city council accepted a staff report on Monday about Bill 36, Alberta Land Stewardship Act, which was recently passed in the legislature to implement the province’s Land-use Framework to better develop the province with land conservation and stewardship in mind.
The primary goal is to protect environmentally sensitive, historically significant or agriculturally important landscapes.
Councillor Lorna Watkinson-Zimmer said she was glad to see there will be regional planning, which she hopes will halt development in pristine areas.
“I can see how it can stop the horribleness out there,” she said, regarding growing housing development in the west Country. “You don’t see the mountains as clearly because of all the acreages.”
Watkinson-Zimmer was also glad the province listened to wide appeals for a Red Deer region.
Besides Red Deer, there are six other regions in the province.
Mayor Morris Flewwelling said the provincial government should be applauded for making land stewardship improvements.
“If we would have had this land-use framework in place 40 years ago, Red Deer might have grown differently,” he said. “We would have built farther south and west. But we started to move east and north, which has some of the best farm soil in the world.”
City council also nominated Nancy Hackett, city planning manager, to be the municipal representative for the regional advisory council. A cross-section of interests will be represented on the councils.
It’s unclear when the council for the Red Deer region will be created.
Bill 36 is expected to take effect later this year.
Those municipalities which don’t conform with regional plans can face penalties, Hackett added.
The minister of municipal affairs can suspend bylaw-making powers or withhold grants.