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Extensive changes proposed for MD of Willow Creek’s municipal development plan

LAWRENCE GLEASON – GAZETTE CONTRIBUTOR
Extensive by-law revision proposals governing how subdivisions are created in the MD of Willow Creek were reviewed last month by councillors.
Councillors reviewed a draft plan containing 20 scenarios where new policies could change rules on how subdivisions are created.
“I want to make it perfectly clear, especially to the press here, this is for discussion purposes only,” said Mike Burla, senior planner for the Oldman River Regional Services Planning Commission, as he began the discussion with councillors. “Some of these proposals may not be palatable to council, but when the ink is dry, you can’t say we didn’t talk about it.”
With an election in October, if there are any new councillors elected, they would have to be brought up to speed on proposed changes.
Based on that, councillors were asked by MD of Willow Creek chief administrative officer Cynthia Vizzutti to consider dealing with the proposed changes prior to the October municipal election.
All proposed changes would be provided to the public in an open house before being brought back to council with that public feedback.
Burla told councillors while the municipality has an unchanged policy to preserve agricultural land, its population is becoming more diverse.
“From census information no one can tell me the farm population here is getting bigger,” Burla said.
Business development applications have shown the municipality has more entrepreneurs wanting to be accommodated and at the same time there is a growing demand for subdivision lots zoned country residential.
The municipality is also considering complaints from long-time residents about people living in trailers, recreational vehicles, fifth wheels and campers on recently-created country residential lots.
“What people are telling us is they don’t want to see trailers, they want to see houses out there,” Burla said.
Another proposal being considered by councillors would be to allow those who have a farm quarter with a small home parcel subdivided out separately, apply for a second subdivision from that same quarter, if zoned rural industrial.
Burla gave the example that a agricultural plant or gravel pit separated out that way may have tax advantages to a producer.
Councillors are considering whether or not to approve subdivisions deemed too near its five towns to avoid creating an urban fringe around them.
Burla also said there are also long-time residents, and newcomers, who want a separate title to a subdivided parcel so they will be able to obtain a mortgage to build.
Councillors also looked at minimum distance setbacks for proposed subdivisions near feedlots.
“There are going to be public hearings on this document,” Vizzutti told councillors. “You are going to get a lot of feedback from ratepayers having input into this.”
Burla told councillors, “If you want changes, that is your call. We are prepared to do whatever you guys wish.”

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