Rural Roots pleased with protest outcome

A rural association that rallied horn-honking residents outside Mountain View County’s Didsbury offices said the effort to get council to listen to them has paid off.

A rural association that rallied horn-honking residents outside Mountain View County’s Didsbury offices said the effort to get council to listen to them has paid off.

Rural Roots Association representative Myron Thompson said the group is pleased that the county has agreed to hold off on a controversial land-use bylaw until the public has more chance to comment.

The decision was made after council met with association leaders, who had gathered more than 100 rural residents in the biting cold outside the county office Wednesday afternoon.

Thompson said the association will see how the county intends to address concerns of ratepayers who feared urbanization and high-density developments threatened the municipality’s rural nature.

County Reeve Al Kemmere also expressed hope the two sides were making progress.

“By no means did we dig in our heels. We tried to come up with what we thought was a good middle ground.”

The association presented a list of demands and wanted answers, and council agreed to respond by the end of the month.

Council passed a series of resolutions, including one that said it would welcome an Alberta Municipal Affairs inquiry of the county’s handling of the land-use bylaw. If the minister agrees to call for an inquiry, council would delay passing the land-use bylaw and another bylaw dealing with offsite levies, which are typically charged to developers to pay for roads and services required for new developments.

Council agreed to speed up a review of the municipal development plan to after the 2010 election.

Kemmere said he also reminded the crowd in council chambers that those who disagree with council decisions can make their voices heard at the ballot box. He also encouraged people to stay involved.

The association has been organizing ratepayers to press council for changes to the proposed bylaws.

Rural Roots leaders also criticized the county’s spending habits and its planning staff in a series of seven public open houses that drew about 1,500.

Hundreds signed petitions calling on council not to pass the land-use bylaw and to reject the offsite levy bylaw. Another petition called on councillors to remove themselves or face a Municipal Affairs inquiry unless they adhered to petition demands. The final two petitions called on council not to renew the contract of the chief administrative officer and to fire two senior planning staffers.

The petitions have not been presented to council. There is a meeting on Nov. 23 with Municipal Affairs Minister Ray Danyluk, and the petitions may be presented then. Names can be collected until Nov. 19.

A public workshop on the land-use bylaw has been set for Wednesday, Nov. 25, 4 p.m., at the Zion Church in Didsbury.

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