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Town of Elk Point, County of St. Paul get first look at Buffalo Trail North plan

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The Town of Elk Point and County of St. Paul were recently presented some initial information about an IASP being done.

ELK POINT - The Town of Elk Point looked to the future during its Aug. 8 meeting. A presentation on the Buffalo Trail North Intermunicipal Area Structure Plan (IASP) was presented by ISL Engineering’s senior planner David Schoor and land use concept author Sue Paton.

The area in the plan includes the northernmost two quarter sections flanking Highway 41 within Elk Point town limits and the two quarter sections within the County of St. Paul immediately north of that boundary.

The plan includes areas of single, multiple and row housing on the west side within town limits, as well as areas set aside for storm water collection and a special use area that Paton said could be used for an arena and field house. The east side has already been designed and has development on lots closest to the highway.

The proposal for the County area includes larger residential lots, small and medium acreages arranged around another storm water collection pond on the west side, as well as highway commercial spaces flanking the highway and larger industrial lots on the east, backed by an environmental reserve, a third storm water collector and a system of trails and paths which extends to various locations across the highway.

The plan has been in the works for most of a year, with the planners collecting information and meeting with councils and administrators of both municipalities, landowners and adjacent landowners. The next step will be landowner interviews and meetings with stakeholders such as Alberta Transportation.

Paton noted that future developers would not be tied to the concept and the sizes of lots would not be shown on the “long range plan."

Mayor Lorne Young declared it “a high level plan with flexibility for the future,” and added that “the actual layout, sites and decisions can be made as we go along,” when the plan was brought back to the council table later in the meeting. 

Council gave the plan their approval, with Coun. Dwayne Yaremkevich calling it “a starting point.” Coun. Debra McQuinn said she “really liked that,” and Coun. Terri Hampson was of the opinion that “it will be interesting (to see what happens) after the landowners give their input.”

Deputy Mayor Tim Smereka had one reservation, however, asking, “are we sure that’s the direction we’re going?”

County of St. Paul

Schoor and Paton were also in attendance at the Aug. 10 County of St. Paul council meeting, offering a similar presentation, and garnering similar feedback.

The plan presented showed dedicated space for non-vehicular traffic, such as walking trails, and a large area was left for what was described as special development. Development in the area could be recreational, such as a field house or arena, said Schoor.

Reeve Steve Upham was first to express his concern about leaving an area for such a specific use, such as a fieldhouse, and said he felt that would set an expectation for residents. 

Municipalities would need millions of dollars of revenue coming from that area to justify recreation facilities, said the reeve. 

"I think we almost need to take that out of there... not set it in as an expectation," he added.

Schoor noted that the area, which is about 35 acres in size, could be described in a more general sense, and used for something simple like a park, or other "public amenities."

Council also asked questions regarding how the plan would affect landowners' abilities to use the land in question, before it is actually developed. 

"This is an aspirational plan," said Paton. She said she didn't believe there would be anything in the way that would prohibit existing uses to the land. Much of the land is being used for agricultural purposes. The plan is essentially a framework for anything that isn't agricultural.

There also isn't any set timeline in place for the plan, but plans such as the IASP are typically reviewed every five to 10 years.

Coun. Kevin Wirsta made a motion to proceed with the Buffalo Trail North Inter-municipal Area Structure Plan (IASP) Land Use Concept, amending the park space, to be identified as an area for public amenities. Council approved the motion.

*With files from Janice Huser