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Regional board approves county's MDP

Symbol of regional co-operation, says Crouse

By: Kevin Ma

  |  Posted: Saturday, Apr 12, 2014 06:00 am

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The Capital Region Board has finally given Sturgeon County a green light for its municipal development plan, a move St. Albert’s mayor says is a symbol of unity for the region.

Capital Region Board (CRB) members voted unanimously in support of Sturgeon County’s MDP Thursday at the Fairmont Hotel Macdonald in Edmonton.

Originally submitted to the board about a year ago, the plan has been held back from a formal vote several times in the face of opposition from communities such as St. Albert. Edmonton formally appealed the plan last February, citing concerns with the plan’s vision of Villeneuve, the Sturgeon Industrial Park and the fringe area around St. Albert.

Edmonton dropped its appeal Thursday when county Mayor Tom Flynn tabled a revised version of the MDP to address the city’s concerns.

“What we were really looking for was clarity,” said Edmonton Mayor Don Iveson. The revisions made to this plan may have been minor, but Edmonton needed to make a formal appeal to get the understanding needed to make them.

This plan was a strong example of leadership and regional collaboration, Iveson said.

“It’s a win for all of us,” he said. “We can work together, and we can create an environment for continued collaboration in the future.”

Board chair and St. Albert Mayor Nolan Crouse said the revised plan also confirms that the fringe areas around St. Albert should be urban, which paves the way for a future boundary adjustment between the city and the county. It also eliminates the city’s concerns about Villeneuve someday becoming a big town of 10,000.

“I’m convinced voting yes to this is in the best interest of St. Albert.”

Small, but significant, tweaks

Most of the changes to the county’s MDP were minor tweaks for clarification.

The revised plan states that Villeneuve was to become a “complete” community “in a rural context,” for example, implying that it would not become a dense, urbanized centre. The plan also emphasizes the Villeneuve Airport as a regional asset, one that the county would develop in partnership with the capital region.

The revisions clarify when area structure plans would be needed in Neighbourhood G (the fringe areas with St. Albert) and state that any expansion to the Sturgeon Industrial Park will require a change to the MDP and therefore the CRB’s approval.

That wouldn’t happen anytime soon, as the county already has plenty of room to grow in the park, Flynn said.

The plan still has some gaps to fill, Crouse said. “Who pays for 127th Street to run through the county?” he asked the board, speaking as mayor, noting that the county would never be able to finish that road on its own. The board’s upcoming review of its own growth plan could answer some of these questions.

Flynn said this deal couldn’t have happened a year ago, as the board didn’t have the air of co-operation back then that it does now. “Now, there’s a positive message out there.”

The passage of this plan means the county can now work on other long-stalled projects such as its plans for Villeneuve and the Sturgeon Valley, Flynn said. “We’re now in a position where we control most of our future ourselves.”

This vote should show the region that Edmonton and its neighbours are willing to work together, Iveson said. “The relationship is improving, which should be very encouraging to citizens and investors.”

Crouse said he saw Thursday’s vote as a symbol of unity for the capital region. “It was very, very symbolic of the municipalities working together.”

The MDP now goes back to county council for third reading.


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