Kneehill County begins public consultation on major guiding document

Written by Stu Salkeld

Kneehill County council gave its blessing to a series of sessions to gather public input on a major guiding document of the municipality. The decision to move forward with the public information sessions was made at the June 27 regular meeting of council.

Councillors heard a report about upcoming public sessions to gather input on the Municipal Development Plan (MDP) review from Barb Hazelton, manager of planning and development, who noted the municipality was referring to these sessions as an RSVP engagement process.

“Kneehill County has several working supper engagements planned to provide an opportunity for landowners and residents of Kneehill County to provide their input in the MDP,” stated Hazelton in her report to council.

Readers may know an MDP is a major guiding document within a municipality; it “…identifies future development patterns within municipal boundaries, and facilitates local planning and economic growth,” according to the Government of Alberta.

An MDP, for example, lays out where residential, commercial and industrial zones will be placed, how parks are placed and how land will be set aside for future institutional development such as schools and hospitals among many other things.

“Administration has drafted an RSVP form that participants will have to submit in order to attend the supper meetings,” stated Hazelton’s report. “There will be no cost to the participants, this is solely for us to give the caterer the number of attendees for food preparation.

“On the form, we have several questions to determine whether or not someone is a resident, landowner or does business in Kneehill County.

During the committee of the whole on June 20, 2023, council recommended that a limited number of participants that don’t meet the established criteria may be able to attend as observers, however, they will require vetting by administration to obtain a ticket.

Observers will be required to cover the cost of supper prior to obtaining a ticket.

“Since this is a working group, we want to create the best atmosphere for discussion purposes, and we want everyone to be able to participate.

“In order to encourage the participation of our youth, we will be sending letters to area high schools to notify them of this opportunity.

“In order to provide an environment that will allow for effective engagement only those who have pre-registered and have received a ticket will be granted access to the event.

Once we know the approach of choice, we will be able to have the forms go live within a few days. There will be four forms created to reflect each specific event separately,” added Hazelton.

During discussion, Hazelton noted councillors previously voiced their interest in holding working supper engagements where the municipality could gather input from residents on a revised MDP.

It was stated councillors approved funding for this project from the Strategic Initiative Fund. Hazelton stated it appears these supper events will require a fair amount of staff work to pull off.

Councillors unanimously approved the RSVP engagement process as it was presented to them.

According to Kneehill County’s websites, the meetings are scheduled for various locations around the municipality in October and November plus two in Jan., 2024.

Stu Salkeld
Local Journalism Initiative reporter
ECA Review

About the author

Stu Salkeld

Stu Salkeld, who has upwards of 28 years of experience in the Alberta community newspaper industry, is now covering councils and other news in the Stettler region and has experience working in the area as well.

He has joined the ECA Review as a Local Journalism Initiative Journalist.

Stu earned his two-year diploma in print journalism from SAIT in Calgary from 1993 to ’95 and was raised in Oyen, Alta., one of the communities within the ECA Review’s coverage area.