Big Lakes allows land-use for colonies

Richard Froese
South Peace News

Colony communities are now allowed in Big Lakes County on agricultural land.
At its regular meeting Oct. 26, council gave final reading to land-use bylaw 21-2022 to accommodate colony development in the agriculture district.
Council adopted the bylaw after a quiet public hearing at the meeting.
“No submissions were received,” said Pat Olansky, director of planning and development.
Before the land-use bylaw was amended, she told council no provisions to develop colonies were stated in the bylaw.
The Municipal Planning Commission passed a motion at its meeting July 27 that administration present a land-use bylaw amendment to accommodate colony development, she noted.
“The MPC wants something separate for colony development,” Olansky said when the amendment was presented to council at its regular meeting Sept. 14.
No colony communities are currently located in Big Lakes.
The county planning department checked land-use bylaws in other rural regions to examine regulations for colonies.
“Several rural municipalities with Hutterite colony development were researched and no consistent standard way of handling this type of development was found,” Olansky says.
“Some municipalities require a redistricting to a direct-control district, which would require all development applications to be approved by council.”
Others allowed either communal dwelling units or multi-unit dwellings as a use within the agriculture district, she notes.
The bylaw adds multi-unit (colony) dwelling as a discretionary use in the agriculture district.
Notice of applications for discretionary uses must be sent to adjacent property owners for an opportunity to comment prior to a decision being made.
The bylaw also adds a requirement that the development authority may issue a development permit for more than three dwellings on a parcel in the agriculture district, specifically for a multi-unit (colony) dwelling.
As well, the bylaw defines colony as multi-unit dwelling(s) and associated facilities which may be contained within one building or within multi buildings and are directly associated with a colony.
Multi-unit dwellings (colony) are designed to provide living accommodations to colony members and their families who are directly involved in the day-to-day function of the agricultural operation owned and operated by the colony.
Associated facilities may include a communal kitchen, dining room, school and church.

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