The County of Paintearth held a public hearing for the new proposed land use bylaw on Tue. April 20.
The land use bylaw sets out the minimum criteria for development within a region or rural municipality.
At the regular May 4 council meeting the bylaw received second and third reading and was passed.
This bylaw, 698-21, will replace the outdated version.
It includes updated instruction and guidelines on a number of areas including cannabis production facilities and beekeeping.
“It’s a living document,” said community director Todd Pawsey. “We think we caught the latest of the late – it’s never a done deal in respect of the regulations.”
The hearing was held in the afternoon where Donna and Gerard Fetaz attended to say their piece on the wind and solar energy and aerodrome portions of the bylaw changes.
One letter, aside from the couples, was from Dwayne Flezien which spoke to the same topics.
Felzien asked about development within flight paths and solar and wind energy conversion systems.
On flight paths, he said in his letter “The county continues to believe it has jurisdiction and authority over Transport Canada and the Supreme Court.”
He added that the Alberta Utilities Commission (AUC) in its updated rule 007 has directed developers to reference and follow the guidelines of TP1247 respecting all aerodromes within 4,000 metres, saying this portion is federal jurisdiction.
As for solar and wind energy, he noted the adherence of manufacturer safety requirements, hoping to have a section added to the land use bylaw on compliance for companies.
“By closing our eyes does not make it safe. Do we promote our equipment operators, school bus drivers and firefighters to do their own thing or to follow manufacturer safety requirements and protocols?” stated Dwayne Felzien’s letter.
Gerard and Donna Fetaz felt that changes to the land use bylaw were not a ‘fulsome’ open public hearing with enough public consultation, saying there should be a pause on this endeavour until after the pandemic is over.
They mentioned in their letter that many other organizations at the provincial and federal level like the AUC that takes precedence over any decisions the county makes, thus ruling this section of the bylaw ‘a waste of taxpayer money’ by the inability to be enforced.
Community Director Pawsey responded to this at the hearing, mentioning the specific parameters set out in a land use bylaw can be used to direct construction when turbines are being built as well as help guide the AUC to a more balanced decision by taking the rural municipality’s land use bylaw into account.
Companies also need road use agreements in order to construct a turbine or other type of project which can make or break a project because if the company cannot reach the land they need to build by road, the project cannot be started nor completed.
A large survey done from 2019 through to 2021 has yielded some interesting results.
Pawsey and Chief Administrative Officer (CAO) Michael Simpson shared the sentiment that they have listened to taxpayers through this in-depth survey.
For example, turbine setbacks from a residence were at 750 metres but have now been returned to 1,000 metres.
In regards to the Fetaz’s comments about not being a compliant hearing, CAO Simpson shared that the hearing was fully statutory and they did their due diligence.
Council adjourned the public hearing and will be reviewing the results of it in discussions, come the next meeting on May 4.
Second and third reading may take place as well to solidify the bylaw based on this conversation.
The county hired HM Aero Aviation Consulting (HM Aero) beginning last fall to dive further into regulations and issues the current outdated land use bylaw has regarding aerodromes to ensure a compliant land use bylaw.
An Aerodrome Land Use Protection Report was subsequently provided.
At the request of the county, the firm studied the treatment of aerodromes in the municipal planning system by four factors: to identify the responsibilities of municipalities in the development of new aerodromes; describing the planning obligations imposed on municipalities in the protection of aerodromes from incompatible land uses; recommending changes to the Land Use Bylaw as it addresses aeronautics; and commenting on correspondence authored by a representative of McMillan LLP.
“This report affirms that the location and siting of new aerodromes is exclusively a matter of federal jurisdiction and that in our professional opinion, municipalities are not obligated to enact planning protections around aerodromes.” explained the email from aviation planner Ben Crooks submitting the report to the CAO.
The company recommended updates to the land use bylaw that obstacle limitation surface mapping and development guidelines be prepared for both Coronation and Castor airports which will ensure that the county is well-positioned to address future development.