Big Lakes, Smoky River finalize shared plan

Map shows the area covered in the inter-municipal development plan along the shared border of Big Lakes County and the M.D. of Smoky River. Left-right, are Smoky River Reeve Robert Brochu and Big Lakes Reeve Richard Simard. They showed the map at an open house June 18 in Triangle.

Richard Froese
South Peace News

An inter-municipal development plan for Big Lakes County and the M.D. of Smoky River has been finalized.

Both councils adopted the IDP bylaw at their regular meetings Sept. 11.

After a silent public hearing, Big Lakes council gave final reading.

“No comments or concerns were received,” says Pat Olansky, Big Lakes director of planning and development.

Smoky River council adopted the bylaw the same day, says consultant Brian Austrom, principal of Vicinia Planning and Engagement Inc. which prepared the plan.

“It’s a small area, primarily agricultural land,” Olansky says.

The IDP area is a 1.6 km boundary on either side of the inter-municipal boundary between the two municipalities.

“There’s not much area to develop or change,” Big Lakes County Reeve Richard Simard says.

A significant amount of land in he IDP area is provincial Crown land, including Winagami Lake Provincial Park, the document says.

“This is not an active growing area,” says Austrom says.

Both municipalities are committed to protect prime agricultural land, work together to develop future broadband and water lines, road networks and ensure future sites for recreational areas.

Big Lakes and Smoky River also want to ensure that any future oil and gas development does not restrict or interfere with future development in the region.

The municipalities agree to work together to support economic development that benefit both municipalities and encourage agriculture as the primary economic base in the local area.

Upgrading the old Alder Ridge Bridge on the Old High Prairie Road is a priority.

Both municipalities are committed to work with the provincial government to develop a plan and seek funding.

Reeves are eager to move forward on future growth as partners.

The proposed area was selected by a joint IDP committee.

An IDP is required by new legislation within the Municipal Government Act that requires IDPs to be developed between all neighbouring municipalities.

It provides an opportunity for collaboration on matters important to both Big Lakes Smoky River, including services, land use, environmental protection and future development patterns.

The plan was distributed to the municipalities’ solicitors, school divisions and Alberta Environment and Parks.

Smoky River received a grant for the project.

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