County of Wetaskiwin ‘open for business’

Updated Hwy #2 development policy approved by council

The County of Wetaskiwin has updated its policy regarding development along the Hwy. #2 corridor, describing itself as “open for business.”

For a couple meetings, councilors had been discussing updating the Commercial and Industrial Development in the Highway 2 Corridor Policy to include updated wording and references.

Previous discussions at council noted the previous policy seemed to steer developers to urban areas rather than within the County of Wetaskiwin, and councilors wanted that wording removed.

Other changes presented in the agenda memo included, “Section 2: added statement: ‘and potentially up to 1600 meters’ when referring to the distance of a subdivision or development to a highway which will require approvals from both the municipality and Alberta Transportation. Section 3.1.4: Update the name Hobbema to Maskwacis. Section 3.1.5: Remove part of the statement: This site has therefore been excluded from this study.”

Section 3.1.5 was discussed, and Director of Development David Blades pointed out that section and the one immediately before it.

“3.1.4. Highway 611 intersection: Land south of this intersection is in Ponoka County and outside the scope of this study. Land on the north side of Highway 611 appears to be very suitable for development. Traffic along 611 into Maskwacis is only about 1,350 vehicles a day, but this could rise significantly if the First Nations achieves their goal of building a casino between Maskwacis and Highway 2.

“3.1.5. The Bearhills Service Station has direct access to Highway 2, but only to and from the northbound lane. Access to the local road system is limited. The potential of a casino referenced in 3.1.4., would be dependent on addressing the access question. Should access be improved, there may be an opportunity for development.”

It was noted there has been some discussion about First Nations possibly developing a casino in the Bear Hills area.

Councilors reviewed the policy statement: “Close to 20,000 vehicles use Highway 2 each day in the County of Wetaskiwin. A business exposed to this volume of traffic could have a great advantage over one on a lesser-used road.

“Industrial activities can also benefit from direct access to a highway with high load limits. Experience in Leduc, Lacombe, and Red Deer Counties suggests that it will not be long before the County of Wetaskiwin is asked to approve large scale commercial and industrial land uses at the places where there is access to Highway 2.

“This policy paper sets out some of the considerations which will apply when the Council of the County of Wetaskiwin is asked to approve subdivision or rezoning for such uses.”

Councilors approved the updated policy.

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