Minister replies to county issues of interest

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Alberta’s minister of Agriculture and Forestry has responded to a series of issues of interest forwarded to his department by Mountain View County.

In July, the county sent a letter to Oneil with comments regarding the Enhanced Protection for Farm and Ranch Workers Act (Bill 6), agricultural plastic recycling, and forestry management areas setbacks.

ï On Bill 6, the county said it “continues to view the development and passage of Bill 6 as a process that was light on consultation and input from agriculture producers.”

The county called on the province to “engage producers and producer associations actively, and improve on communication efforts with all stakeholders to help alleviate the community perception that their input is irrelevant to the process.”

In his reply letter, Oneil said, in part, that the government received more than 7,000 responses (to calls for comments) from individuals, employers, business associations, and organized labour and advocacy groups. “I also met personally with many workers and business owners to receive valuable feedback.”

ï On the issue of ag plastic recycling, the county called on Alberta Agriculture and Forestry to develop a provincial strategy, supported by the Environment and Parks ministry, to “promote, support and fund provincewide recycling programs for ag plastics in Alberta. Further that the province develop a policy model like the one recently developed in Saskatchewan.”

In his letter of response, Oneil said, in part, that, ” Our government recognizes the need to support municipalities and farmers in addressing ag plastic waste management. We also recognize the efforts of municipalities, such as Mountain View County, that put in the extra effort to find markets for recycling ag plastics and provide recycling options for their producer residents.”

Provincial regulations for all wastes fall within the authority of Environment and Parks (EP), not Alberta Agriculture and Forestry (AF), he said.

“AF would be willing to support EP in developing any policy associated with agricultural plastics,” he said.

ï Regarding forestry management areas setback, the county called on Oneil’s department to “review and evaluate the current setbacks in forest management areas, and that these setbacks be relevant to protection of watersheds, stream health, and downstream effects. Additionally the Minister of Agriculture and Forestry align these setbacks with proposed floodway development regulations.”

In his letter of response, Oneil said, in part, that, “Alberta’s foresters design, plan and supervise forest harvesting, silviculture, ecological restoration and management of protected areas to ensure the maintenance of long-term environmental, economic and social benefits to Albertans.”

Reeve Beattie told council he is pleased to have received Oneil’s replies to the county’s issues of interest.

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Dan Singleton

Dan Singleton is the editor of the Mountain View Gazette who joined the newspaper in 1994. He covers news, municipal politics and community events in Mountain View County. He is also a longtime columnist for other publications of Mountain View Publishing.