Annual Report - Planning and Development
Building on the successes of 2015, Planning & Development continued leveraging new staff and programs as the department expanded service delivery throughout 2016.
With a Long Range Planner on board, and the transition of the Municipal Intern into that position, the Municipal Development Plan rewrite began in earnest. Initial consultation and public engagement was completed at the end of 2016 with the intensive part of the process being undertaken in 2017.
Once the Municipal Development Plan review has been completed, an Intermunicipal Development Plan review will be undertaken in conjunction with the Town of Drayton Valley, aided by funding received from the provincial government. After completion of these two key statutory plans, staff will renew working on internal policies and the numerous Area Structure Plans that require updates.
Another major document completed and adopted in October was the Land Use Bylaw, approved by Council after over four years of working through an extensive process. The Land Use Bylaw regulates the use of land within the County and Council has provided a document that they feel meets the needs of residents. The approved document was significantly changed from the previous version, with many standards being relaxed or reduced.
Multiple staff have assisted with the substantial task of auditing issued development permits. This undertaking has gone through nearly 1,000 permits issued since 2010 to ensure adherence to conditions and follow up on any outstanding items. Continued efforts in this regard will provide an annual review of issued development permits to assist residents with meeting the requirements of their issued approvals.
As part of the audit process, and in light of a fee waiver enacted by Council, applications for new development permits have been steady into the new year. 2016 saw a reduced number of application submitted relative to years past, which can largely be attributed to the economic downturn. This year, the department is on record pace for total permits applied for, meeting or exceeding the number of permits received by the same date in years past.
The Alternative Land Use Services (ALUS) program was kicked off last year with the Partnership Advisory Committee meeting for the first time in May 2016. This committee reviews and decides on applications to the program. ALUS works with local agricultural producers to enrol marginal agricultural lands into the program to manage them for ecosystem goods and services. This can include projects such as riparian fencing, off stream watering, pollinator habitat, and revegetation among many others. ALUS assists producers with the costs associated with these projects and provides payments to them on an annual basis for acres enrolled.
The momentum built up in 2016 has carried through to 2017. Planning & Development will continue to assist residents with approvals processes while ensuring follow up. Major statutory plans will be reviewed and adopted while environmental programming, such as ALUS, continues to grow.