Growth corridors 'will not preserve ag'
Council’s plans to create an Economic Growth Corridor in Mountain View County will undermine its No. 1 priority – preserving farmland, a spokesman for the owners of the Netook Crossing Business Park told council’s policies and priorities committee last week.
“The creation of the corridor does not support the fundamental goal of the MDP, which is the preservation of agriculture,” Terry Johnston of Prodev Limited Partnership said at Wednesday’s P&P meeting.
Johnston said Prodev had “some serious concerns” that the proposed growth corridor policy for commercial-industrial development “will invite a great deal of speculation within the county on all the major highway routes.”
The policy, which will require applicants to complete an area structure plan or concept plan, will also “dilute the viability of existing and proposed business parks,” Johnston said.
“You’re going to end up, I think, with piecemeal development throughout the county.”
He was appalled, he added, by council’s recent decision to approve a sea-container facility on Highway 2 where it will be a very visible eyesore.
“It’s going to have a direct impact on the rural nature of the county,” he said.
The growth corridor provisions were also a focus during councillor discussions of the draft MDP later in the meeting, with Div. 7 Coun. Al Kemmere asking for clarity on Section 5.3.2 of the document.
“It is the intent that development within an economic corridor shall be planned in a comprehensive manner,” the section states. “Development shall be concentrated at highway intersections, interchanges or at appropriate access points along the highway corridor.”
“This more or less says it will only happen at the intersections, right?” Kemmere asked, and Reeve Bruce Beattie said he also wondered whether the meaning was clear.
“Should it be narrowed down, because I have similar concerns regarding running it down the whole highway?” Beattie said.
Div. 6 Coun. Paddy Munro said the reference to access points was in relation to service roads.
“Paddy, do you think we should allow for development on the whole stretch?” Beattie asked.
“I agree with what’s up there now,” Munro said, referring to the draft MDP section projected on the council chamber walls. “It’s just that appropriate access point means service road.”
“I don’t think anyone wants 100 per cent infill,” Div. 1 Coun. Kevin Good said. “But to define it now, before we see a concept plan and ASP, would be premature.”
The proposed 80-acre minimum for agricultural parcels was also reviewed at the meeting, with Beattie saying intensive dairy, poultry and greenhouse operations don’t necessarily need so much land.
“Either we find a different number or come up with another designation for those intensive operations,” Beattie said. “Eighty is fine for grain.”
“The problem is,” Munro said, “everybody that comes before us will say they have an intensive goat farm, so give me 20 acres. I don’t know.”
Good said the larger maximum parcel size means there will be ample space for a buffer area or future land use.
“The positives far outweigh the negatives,” he said.
Kemmere said the issue has been unresolved since before he came on council and there’s no easy answer.
“You can’t tie conditions to rezoning. We can’t force them how to use the land.”
“Just as there’s areas out there that could support residential, there are areas that support small farming,” Div. 5 Coun. Bob Orr said.
“Unless we can find an alternative, I don’t support the 80 acres,” Beattie said.