Big Lakes considers land-use for colonies

Richard Froese
South Peace News

Colony communities in Big Lakes County may soon be allowed on agricultural land.
At its meeting Sept. 14, council gave first reading to Land-Use Bylaw 21-2022 to accommodate colony development in the agriculture district.
No provisions to develop colonies are currently stated in the bylaw, Pat Olansky, director of planning and development, told council.
The Municipal Planning Commission (MPC) 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.
No colony communities are currently located in Big Lakes.
“We could have a specific district for colony if council wants,” Olansky noted.
A public hearing is scheduled for Oct. 26 at 1 p.m.
High Prairie East – Banana Belt Councillor Tyler Airth supports the draft bylaw.
“I know some municipalities struggle with this,” Airth said.
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 said.
“Some municipalities require a redistricting to a direct-control district, which would require all development applications to be approved by council,” she added.
Others allowed either communal dwelling units or multi-unit dwellings as a use within the agriculture district.
The draft bylaw proposes to add 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 before a decision being made.
The draft bylaw also proposes to add 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 draft bylaw proposes to define 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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