Despite Alberta’s economic downturn, Edmonton and the communities that surround it continue to grow. This means new subdivisions need to be built to accommodate the influx of people, and that requires long-term planning.
Strathcona County has been working on these plans since 2001, and has chosen to develop north of Sherwood Park in the Bremner area. Landowners to the south of the hamlet feel this decision will leave them frozen out.
“We feel that we’ve been ignored,” said Marilyn Macyk, whose family has lived in Colechester for decades, and was hoping to see the county allow for more development in the area.
Colchester is bordered by the Whitemud Drive extension on the north, Anthony Henday on the west, and highways 14 and 21 to the south and east.
The area has been frozen for development since 2001 as the county went through its planning process, and is now destined to be zoned small agriculture. That would allow quarter sections to be subdivided up to eight times for uses like dairy operations and greenhouses, and single family homes to serve them, but nothing denser than that.
Macyk says 80 per cent of the landowners in the area do not want the designation, and feel the entire process has been punitive.
“We feel very much that we have not been listened to,” Macyk added. “We feel we have been talked to, not with.”
According to the county, this decision was made as part of a larger, regional plan.
“Colchester is not designated as a growth area under the Edmonton Metropolitan Region Growth Plan,” said Stacy Fedechko, the director of Planning and Development Services with Strathcona County.
“We need to look at growth holistically through the whole region, and this is what the outcome is.”
The metro region plan was negotiated by the entire capital region to ensure orderly growth, and it doesn’t allow the county to have two growth areas.
The plan still needs to be approved by the provincial government, which means it has no legal standing. The landowners’ lawyer believes this gives her clients a legal case, and wonders why council is bowing to a proposed plan.
“Is that the way that municipal governments should be directed? By an outside board?” said Debbie Bishop, a partner with Prowse Chowne LLP.
First reading of the zoning bylaw was read at council last week and had been forwarded to the Capital Region Board for its approval. The landowners hold out hope it will be paused, and allow them a new opportunity when a new council is elected this fall.