County approves development plans with Ponoka, Camrose counties

County approves development plans with Ponoka, Camrose counties

First Nations collaboration remains county goal

Two Intermunicipal Development Plans (IDP) between the County of Wetaskiwin and the neighbouring counties of Ponoka and Camrose, recently approved by Wetaskiwin county council, are putting an official label on many practices already done by the county.

The IDPs were presented to councillors during their recent Oct. 12 planning and economic development meeting.

As the Municipal Government Act is modernized, municipalities within the province are required to develop IDPs and Intermunicipal Collaborative Frameworks with those they share boarders with within the next two years.

Research officer Jeff Chipley says the main point of the IDP is to ensure the agricultural land along the boarders between the counties of Wetaskiwin, Ponoka and Camrose remain an important focus. “The biggest feature … Is protecting agricultural land.”

Communication between the municipalities regarding land use changes for land along the boarders is an important part of that process.

“The main thing with that (it) is a process we’re already doing,” said Chipley.

Having the IDP gives municipalities a policy structure to follow for practices such as municipal/public notices, input and questions.

The IDP will take into account and lands within one mile on either side of the boarder between the County of Wetaskiwin and the two municipalities.

“All we’re doing is formalizing a lot of stuff we’re already doing,” said Coun. Lyle Seely.

However, the map used by the county for simplicity purposes, depicting a straight boarder between the County of Wetaskiwin and the County of Ponoka caused some concern as it did not include Maskwacis or the four reservations — Samson Cree Nation, Ermineskin Cree Nation, Louis Bull Tribe and Montana First Nation.

Cody Bruno, band administrator for the Samson Cree Nation, attended the meeting and took a few minutes to address council.

He says it is felt there has little to no consultation with the Samson Cree Nation, and possibly the other three bands, regarding the drafting of the IDP document.

Bruno says environmental impact, agricultural operations and resource extraction are all practices that impact the First Nations people, and Bruno says they would like to remain notified of development for lands encompassed in legal territory as well as historic traditional territory located throughout central Alberta.

“I would ask for there to be some consultation,” said Bruno.

He was not the only one at the meeting who expressed displeasure over how the First Nations communities have been treated throughout the process.

There is a section within the document addressing First Nations land along the boarder. Any development within one kilometer of the reservations land will lead to notices being sent out similar to landowner and adjoining county notices.

Reeve Kathy Rooyakkers says while these two IDPs address the counties of Ponoka and Camrose, she would like to see increased collaboration between the county and the Four Nations of Maskwacis.

Currently, collaborates between municipalities and First Nation municipalities is strongly recommended. “At this time we are not required to do the development with First Nations because they are run federally,” said Rooyakkers.

amelia.naismith@pipestoneflyer.ca

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