Growth nodes replace corridor on Hwy. 2
Four “economic growth nodes” along Highway 2 have replaced the proposed commercial-industrial corridor in Mountain View County’s newly minted Municipal Development Plan.
The growth nodes, situated within one mile of an interchange, are designated for lands lying directly east of Olds, Didsbury and Carstairs, and across Highway 2A at the south end of the county.
Originally proposed by Div. 7 Coun. Al Kemmere, the late change to the MDP met with initial resistance last Wednesday from Div. 6 Coun. Paddy Munro and Div. 1 Coun. Kevin Good, who spoke in favour of designating the whole Highway 2 corridor for potential economic development.
“With strong architectural controls, an area structure plan and yes, political will you can have an economic corridor on Highway 2,” Munro said.
But by concentrating all the economic development at overpasses, he said, the county would be inviting speculators.
“I believe in the entire length of the corridor,” Munro said.
Defending his proposal, Kemmere said he calculated that the growth corridor would add 80 quarter sections “for piecemeal development” on top of the lands already designated as part of growth centres.
“It doesn’t preserve agricultural land (and) I think it could bring in more speculators,” Kemmere said.
“We have to minimize and focus our development and the corridors do not do that.”
Good, calling the decision “a tough one,” backed Munro's position, saying the county would be missing out on potential gains by limiting development to interchange points.
“If more land is available ... it does allow for different kinds of commercial development that would be very advantageous for employment and the economic health of this county,” Good said.
“Bigger commercial parcels ... can offer the biggest benefit for the county.”
But Reeve Bruce Beattie agreed with Kemmere that too much land would be taken out of production.
“There’s already been a huge area created in the growth centres and these nodes,” Beattie said, and he quoted the first sentence of the new MDP: “Agricultural preservation is paramount in Mountain View County.”
“For us to zone all that land (for potential commercial-industrial development) is irresponsible and hypocritical,” Beattie said.
“That’s good quality land. If we’re really going to take a stand on agriculture, I think that’s a good place to start.”
Munro countered that Highway 2 frontage was “where the money is.”
“Sure we talk about ag land, but we have to keep in reality too,” he said. For significant tax revenue, “I’m prepared to make the trade-off.”
“I’m not,” Beattie retorted.
Prior to the vote, Kemmere asked administration to remove the proposed Westcott/Bergthal Road growth node from the map in support of Div. 3 Duncan Milne, who criticized its inclusion since “we have no idea” whether Alberta Transportation will proceed with a planned overpass.
The amendment bylaw received first reading with Kemmere, Beattie, Milne and Div. 5 Coun. Bob Orr in favour and Munro and Good opposed (Div. 2 Coun. Patricia McKean was absent). Second and final readings were unanimous.