BIGHORN – Communication, cooperation, decision-making and dispute resolution.
Those are some of the key policies outlined in the recently approved Intermunicipal Development Plan (IDP) between the MD of Bighorn and Town of Canmore that was two years in the making.
"For the MD, it means having improved communication with Canmore to identify potential land use issues, so we can work collaboratively to address them ... The IDP creates a framework for ongoing communication and dialogue," Rob Ellis, MD CEO previously told the Outlook.
The IDP was finalized at the MD of Bighorn council meeting on Feb. 11, and the 13-page IDP outlines how to address land use planning on lands bordering both municipalities, mainly the several kilometre stretch between Canmore and the hamlet of Dead Man's Flats, located along the Trans-Canada Highway – a notable piece of land that had previously been a source of tension between both municipalities.
In 2014, the MD had proposed development in the area next to the wildlife underpass, bordering with the Town of Canmore, after nine years of trying to negotiate a land swap with the province.
When the area structure plan was approved, the Town of Canmore, which shared the border with a wildlife corridor on the other side had filed an appeal against the plan, claiming the MD's plan to set aside 29 hectares for light development would impact the effectiveness of the wildlife underpass and adjacent wildlife corridors.
The Municipal Government Board ended up dismissing the appeal, allowing the MD to move forward with development, however, renewed negotiations with the province halted any development from proceeding.
The use of the land was officially decided last September when the province finalized the land exchange with the MD.
The province took control of a five-hectare parcel adjacent to the G8 Legacy wildlife underpass near Dead Man's Flats, in addition to 3.4 hectares of wildlife habitat directly adjacent to the Bow River considered to be a vital piece of conservation land. The MD, meanwhile, received 23 hectares of land east of Exshaw for potential business development opportunities.
But now with any upcoming potential development such as the Three Sisters Mountain Village pursuing two separate area structure plans in the south side of Canmore – MD of Bighorn Reeve Dene Cooper noted the IDP will come in handy.
While initially required by the Municipal Government Act, the provincial government passed a bill last November removing the requirement for municipalities to create and implement such a document. But after two years of working collaboratively to create the plan, MD of Bighorn administration justified the IDP as a useful document as it deals with future planning, environment and transportation matters that may be considered at the shared boundary.
The motion was quick with little discussion as the document was unanimously approved at the meeting earlier this month.
"I would like to congratulate administration on their effort – tremendous work," Cooper said.
Council also approved an Intermunicipal Collaborative Framework between the MD and Town of Canmore – a document that provides framework for neighbouring municipalities to work together regarding service delivery.
Intermunicipal services included transportation, water and wastewater, solid waste and recycling, emergency services, recreation, Family and Community Support Services, and seniors' housing.
The framework outlines integrated and strategic planning, delivery and funding of intermunicipal services, allocates scarce resources efficiently in the providing of local services and ensures municipalities contribute funding to services that benefit their residents.
While the IDP was a new document, the Reeve previously told the Outlook there were many long-standing agreements between the municipalities similar to what would be in the ICF.
At the same council meeting, a Memorandum of Agreement was issued between the MD and the Summer Village of Ghost Lake, and the MD and Summer Village of Waiparous. Requesting an exemption to the document before the government removed the requirement, all councils agreed an Intermunicipal Development Plan was not necessary.
The IDP with Rocky View County is still in the final stages before being officially approved.
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