City begins to prepare to rezone rural service area

·3 min read

The City of Grande Prairie is now beginning to rezone land annexed in 2016 from the County of Grande Prairie so that they align with its land use bylaw.

The Rural Service Area, as the city calls the annexed land, currently has development permits based on county bylaws from 2016 since that’s when they became city property.

The city is looking to simplify two land use bylaws into one.

After public consultations, the city updated its land use bylaws to accommodate the rural service area in April.

“(Residents) can continue whatever they've been doing in the past; this is simply bringing the properties from the old county bylaw into the city’s so nothing is going to change for residents,” said Reed Desroches, senior planner for the city.

“It's just going to be a lot easier for us to manage.”

Desroches noted that the old county bylaw has created challenges for the city, such as not having the ability to rezone properties to accommodate rural development.

The rezoning plans to match the previous county zoning but under the city’s new bylaws.

Aaron Halwa is a landowner whose land was part of the annexation.

He said his questions were answered on Tuesday evening at an information session hosted by the city.

“I don't think there's anything really changing; we're mostly agriculture, so we stay agriculture,” said Halwa. “I'm happy with that.”

He said the annexation hasn’t created many problems for him.

“The only real problem I've had with it is some of the services have dwindled a bit.”

He noted that when his land was within the county, garbage was part of the taxes and now he has to pay to go to the landfill.

He said things like grader service on the roads haven’t changed much: “some days it's good, some days it’s not good.”

Desroches says that about 560 properties are being affected by the rezoning, with a majority of them being agricultural. Those will stay under the same zoning.

“It definitely changes the dynamic of our bylaws because it was entirely urban, and now we've adapted it to the reality of being urban and rural,” Desroches said.

It’s a step he says the city needs to make to accommodate long-term growth and be prepared for the future.

The city says landowners will be receiving a letter from the city notifying them of the proposed new re-zoning, along with information on reviewing the bylaws and providing feedback.

The last public session will be June 9 on Zoom. The city will hold a public hearing and then consider adopting the new rezoning.

Desroches says he hopes to have the bylaw in front of council by the end of August to have the project completed by the fall.

The city annexed 15,600 acres of land from the county in January 2016.

The County of Grande Prairie did not agree with the amount of land being annexed, noting it was an overreach and would meet the city's growth for 70 years.

Jesse Boily, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Town & Country News

Our goal is to create a safe and engaging place for users to connect over interests and passions. In order to improve our community experience, we are temporarily suspending article commenting