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MD of Bonnyville begins review of Land Use Bylaw

Open houses scheduled for May.

BONNYVILLE - MD of Bonnyville ratepayers will be given the opportunity to weigh in on the municipality’s Land Use Bylaw (LUB) at two open houses next month as work begins on reviewing and updating the legislation.

It has been seven years since the last review of the MD’s LUB, and while some amendments have taken place since 2017, a more thorough review to align the LUB with regional and provincial legislation and policies that have come into effect since then is necessary.

Stantec Consulting Ltd. has been hired by the MD to assist with the review.

In a presentation to MD council last week, Sylvia Summers from Stantec, explained the process and timeline for the review.

The LUB establishes development and building regulations for every parcel of land through land use districts and zoning. It is the tool that implements the policies of Intermunicipal Development Plans (IDP), Municipal Development Plans (MDP) and Area Structure Plans (ASP).

In addition to aligning with these plans, an updated LUB also ensures that the MD “addresses emerging trends and responds to demand for development,” Summers said.

Open houses will be held in May to obtain feedback from the community and to identify “opportunities and constraints that need to be considered,” she said. Once a draft LUB has been completed, Stantec will take it back to residents for additional input.

Following any further revisions and first reading approval from council in late 2024, it is expected a new LUB will then move forward for public hearing in January of 2025.

During her presentation, Summers asked council to provide feedback on “any issues or opportunities that you’ve been hearing from your constituents potentially that we should be taking into consideration.”

“All I’ve heard is that they want to make sure they can still raise chickens in their backyard,” Coun. Darcy Skarsen responded, adding that while he was joking, he made the comment in reference to the controversy that erupted in Thorhild County early last year when it undertook a similar review of its LUB. Draft legislation in that County was not well received by residents, some of whom felt the rural way of life was under attack and taking a backseat to other types of development. Ultimately, the County council voted to rescind the draft bylaw.

“As long as we don’t have another one of those situations,” he said.

Coun. Don Slipchuk said more and more smally hobby farms are “popping up everywhere” and suggested that type of use be protected in the MD.

Council also mentioned wind farms, work camps and secondary suites as items to look at in the review process.

CAO Al Hoggan advised council against attending the open houses for the LUB.

“It is my recommendation that on the open houses it is really designed for residents to come and talk directly to the consultant and to the planning staff. Council gets put in a position of some conflict when you take in a bunch of information before the public hearing and then the public hearing comes and people could claim that a councillor or all of council has a bias because they heard information outside of the public hearing process. So, I would recommend that council just leave those open houses to staff and to the consultant.”

Coun. Dana Swigart said it was important this is noted so it is clear why councillors won’t be in attendance at the open houses.

“When we don’t show up to things like that, the public says ‘Where’s my councillor?’ It happens all the time, so –Sorry public, we can’t go,” Swigart said.

“The M.D. recognizes the importance of community input and overall awareness in this process. Significant emphasis on gathering and incorporating community input will be crucial for this project to ensure that our land use policies reflect the needs and desires of all residents,” reads a new release issued by the MD following last Tuesday’s discussion. “We invite the public to participate in all opportunities for input.”

Open houses will be held May 8 at Eastbourne Hall from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. and on May 9 at Riverhurst Hall from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m.




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