Follow up on land use bylaw request

The County of Paintearth revisited a request to review the municipality’s land use bylaw that was made on Dec. 11, 2018, by County residents, Gerard and Donna Fetaz.

The couple, who own an airstrip on their property, found some topics that have not been outlined in the current land use bylaw.

“We’ve basically taken a look at planning processes and aeronautics in the County and what they pointed out to us here were some gaps in the County land use bylaw and things we can look at improving,” explained Todd Pawsey, County of Paintearth Development Officer.

“In many cases, their questions led to us having even more questions of the whole thing.”

A presentation showed the wide range of responsibilities the County has control over and how the request made was only a portion of the issues the County is required to look at to make sure all sides are heard.

In the absence of federal law, provincial or municipal legislation takes over control.

Anything regarding aeronautics is considered federal under Transport Canada.

“Basically the planning process requires consultation surrounding lands as a municipality, everything we do is transparency of applications and the approval process,” said Pawsey. “It involves affected parties, neighbours, public reviews, public open houses, also having the public appeal process and what our legislated mandate for the County is the balance of rights of both developers and those like farmers, industrial, oil and gas, pilots. It could be residents, it could be anybody that wants to develop or use land and the rights of the adjacent landowner.”

The current land use bylaw has very little in terms of aeronautics regulations partly because the template used to erect this bylaw happened 25 years ago with the last major update taking place in 2009.

Two airport fringe districts including the Coronation Airport and Castor Airport occupy space within Paintearth County with airstrips listed as a discretionary use in the agricultural district meaning they should be permitted under the municipality.

Since aeronautic licenses or approvals are dealt with at the federal level, the County does not have control over developments in this area.

This was one of the points the Fetaz’s brought forth in December.

“So that is one of the things we are looking at including in our land use bylaw and process is that we will recognize the federal planning process as well as we must recognize the federal approvals and we will also update our planning approvals in the land use bylaw process where needed because we do have to do that,” he said.

Pawsey mentioned agricultural buildings and how they do not require building permits within the County.  Because of this decision outlined in the current land use bylaw, a farmer can potentially construct a bin yard, silo, or shop for example near an airstrip such as the Fetaz families.

For any new airstrips, Transport Canada is liable as they determine licenses and permits as well as consultation with the County and nearby neighbours.

As for established existing airstrips, both the Fetaz residents and the County are attempting to understand who has paramountcy in the situation as there is little legislation from Transport Canada to determine this power.

“We are working on those things moving forward for aerodrome planning, aerodrome protection, those kinds of things so if federal approval also causes a landowner to seize a current land use, are there compensations involved? Those are questions we don’t have answers to and quite frankly we’re trying to find that out,” said Pawsey.

Like any bylaw process, the County is required to have hearings before the bylaw moves to second reading.

They have decided to host multiple open houses as well as an online survey to gauge resident feedback on the situation which is still yet to take place.

This year’s update will be an indepth review in light of the gaps found in the current bylaw.

“There are lots of chances to exchange dialogue.”

The Fetaz’s requested they be kept informed as information comes in and suggested administration look at past assessment notices to determine all of the airstrips within the County which they agreed was a great suggestion.

Doug and Lynne Potter, Proposed Halkirk 2 Windfarm

Doug and Lynne Potter, residents of Paintearth County, came to Council in regards to the proposed Halkirk 2 Windfarm.

They asked to have Council listen with an open mind.

Lynne began by citing some recent research surrounding wind turbines and associated health issues.

The largest concern the couple had was the set back distance of 750 metres.

Alberta’s minimum setback distance for turbines is 500 metres but the County made arrangements to have it set at 750 metres after residents originally raised concerns.

The Potters have lived in the County of Paintearth for nearly 21 years and have since begun a business as well as farming operation.

They explained that with two towers placed just 750 metres away from their home, they have already developed ‘an exit strategy’ as both of their children have major health issues including one with epilepsy and the other with a traumatic brain injury.

Concerns of property values, health issues including wind turbine syndrome, lack of representation and visual pollution were expressed at the delegation.

Mrs. Potter conducted her own research surrounding communities under similar circumstances and the effects of Wind Turbine Syndrome.

“Did we ask for the project to disappear? No. We asked for greater setbacks so that our health would not be compromised.  After doing my research, I feel even greater setbacks are needed,” said Lynne.

“You are our people. We are your people. We are the people who elected you to represent us, to listen to our concerns and discuss with us ways to make this community one that we want to remain in. I feel you have been negligent as our representatives in doing your due diligence. You are not Capital Power’s people.”

The decision regarding the Halkirk 2 Wind Project is under the Court of Appeals at the time of the presentation so the County was unable to comment much on the presentation.

Reeve Stan Schulmeister added “Because this is in fact in front of the Court of Appeal we can’t address a lot of this right now. We definitely appreciate the effort you have put into this.”

“We understand and I think Council as a whole understands that the process is flawed and in that we have applied to set a resolution to the province because we know there has to be changed. Between our MLA and whatever, we have got to get our voice back to the province,” concluded Schulmeister.

 

Terri Huxley

ECA Review

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