Plan for Sexsmith’s future growth will go to public consultation before approval

·3 min read

A draft Municipal Development Plan (MDP) to guide further developments in Sexsmith was tabled to council in late December.

The MDP will be subject to a public consultation session before approval, said mayor Kate Potter.

“The MDP will help us make sure we are following a plan when it comes to development,” Potter said.

“We want to make responsible choices, so when we make decisions we can look back on (the MDP) and say, ‘Does this development fit with what we want to see happen in the town?’”

The company ISL Engineering was contracted to craft the MDP, with council accepting ISL’s $12,000 quote in July.

Council had expressed interest in having a “fresh” plan, with the previous General Municipal Plan Bylaw signed in 1999.

Dave McRae, ISL land use planning manager, told the News last year MDPs generally set visions for the next 10 to 20 years, making Sexsmith’s overdue for an update.

ISL began the process with an online survey in August and September, which saw 23 residents participate.

Respondents identified priorities for Sexsmith over the next 20 years as including business opportunities for small businesses, preservation of historic resources and addressing flooding issues.

According to the survey, respondents like Sexsmith’s quiet, “small-town feel” and sense of security.

Respondents also indicated they would like to see more local businesses, including hardware and grocery stores and recreational opportunities like a dog park.

The notion of a dog park has been proposed previously. Potter said this week COVID has slowed developments and the dog park is still in the proposal stage.

The desire for more businesses like a grocery store and a hardware store also motivated council to launch its economic development advisory committee and pursue development east of Highway 2, she added.

The draft anticipates Sexsmith’s population could rise to 4,937-6,747 by 2048.

To accommodate the growth, the town has a land base of 1,315 hectares, with approximately 882.7 ha of undeveloped land, according to ISL. Of that, 509 ha will see residential development, 70.3 ha commercial and 303.4 ha industrial.

ISL concluded Sexsmith has enough land to meet its growth needs for a period of more than 50 years.

According to the draft, a key objective is to pursue more commercial and industrial development in Sexsmith to diversify the tax base.

To do so, the town should promote its proximity to highways 2, 59 and 672 and the CN rail line to attract businesses, according to ISL.

The draft also addresses open spaces and recreation, setting objectives for “an integrated, accessible and well-planned system of open space, trails, parks and recreational (and) cultural facilities.”

The draft proposes the town enter into agreements with Peace Wapiti School Division, Grande Prairie and District Catholic Schools and Peace River Bible Institute to plan joint use of community facilities.

Rachel Wueschner, Sexsmith’s chief administrative officer, said she is working with ISL to set a date for the public consultation.

Brad Quarin, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Town & Country News