Proposed moratorium shot down
Council heard “loud and clear” that placing a moratorium on subdividing bare first parcels is not what people in Red Deer County want.
During a public hearing last Tuesday afternoon, 14 people spoke out against the proposed bylaw which, if approved, would have banned applications for bare first parcel subdivisions until the current review process of the Municipal Development Plan is complete and a new MDP is adopted.
The idea was presented by Div. 4 Coun. David Hoar during the April 24 council meeting. He said since council allowed the removal of bare parcels from quarter sections about a year ago, the number of subdivision applications has increased. He wanted the moratorium to allow time to prompt public feedback on how to preserve agricultural land.
But the public protested that the ban would only hurt the agricultural community in Red Deer County.
“The very people you are trying to protect are the ones you are hurting,” said Ashley Shannon, who was the first to speak before council.
She said her family are fifth generation farmers and in order for her to continue the tradition she needs to be able to live on her parents’ land.
She asked council to be flexible with applications and determine their worth case by case.
“Accommodate youth wanting to return to the farm,” Shannon said. “Create a policy to encourage youth to return.”
Other people said the ban would “diminish value” of the land.
“It’s my belief that when there is a buyer and a seller it’s the government’s job to facilitate that, not put up roadblocks,” said Doug Malsbury, who received applause from the audience.
Grant Daines said not everyone needs a quarter section and pointed to U-pick and organic farms as examples.
Murray Young said he’s seen council go back and forth on this issue for the last 35 years and asked, “Are you really representing our ratepayers?”
Council acknowledged all the feedback and once the public hearing was closed voted unanimously to defeat the proposed bylaw.
“To attempt to get people’s attention I brought this moratorium forward,” said Hoar. “I will bow out.”
Div. 1 Coun. Philip Massier said there was no question that people don’t want the moratorium.
“We heard it loud and clear,” he said.
Both Div. 6 Coun. George Gehrke and Div. 5 Coun. Richard Lorenz expressed concerns about the future.
“Today everybody says I need a subdivision for my son. In a few years you’ll need one for the other son and the other son and the cousin. When does it stop?” said Gehrke.
“Rural Alberta is ag. And ag is an industry and there are large areas needed to have intensive livestock. And if we diminish those areas we lose them. And that’s gone forever.”
He said he supports the public’s opinion but cautioned more thought needs to be put in place for the future.
“We have to be careful,” echoed Lorenz. “I went and bought my own quarter and subsidized it whatever way I had to. I drove trucks of all sorts. Our forefathers did that too. It’s a way of agriculture. The way to fix it isn’t subdivisions,” he said.