Shared plan for Big Lakes and Smoky River

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.

Richard Froese
For The Express

A proposed inter-municipal development plan for Big Lakes County and the M.D. of Smoky River was presented at an open house June 18.

However, only one citizen attended the event at Triangle Hall.

“In creating the document, we didn’t come up with any major issues,’ Smoky River Reeve Robert Brochu says.

The IDP area is a 1.6 km (one mile) 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 the IDP area is provincial Crown land, including Winagami Lake Provincial Park, the document says.

“This is not an active growing area,” says Brian Austrom, principal of Austrom Consulting.

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.

“Big Lakes County is awesome to work with and we have a good long relationship,” Brochu says.

The Big Lakes reeve agrees.

“We’ve got a great working relationship with Smoky River,” Simard says.

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 and Smoky River, including services, land use, environmental protection and future development patterns.

For more information, phone Big Lakes County at (780) 523-5955 or the M.D. of Smoky River at (780) 837-2221.

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