Sexsmith-area residents learn how development plan will affect nearby lands

·2 min read

There are no plans to develop most of the agricultural land in a 3.2-kilometre radius around the Town of Sexsmith, Dave McRae, ISL land use planning manager, said during an information session last week.

McRae led the information session on a development plan in progress for border areas between the town and County of Grande Prairie.

“Existing agricultural operations will basically continue as is,” McRae said during the session.

However, the plan does envision residential and industrial development closer in, he said, citing a 0.8-km radius around Sexsmith’s boundaries.

Sexsmith and the county are currently working on the Intermunicipal Development Plan (IDP) addressing land use and proposals for development and transportation in border areas.

Sexsmith-area landowners were able to learn about the IDP and raise questions during two sessions last Wednesday, with 11 people attending the first and another eight registered for the second.

“Nothing in this (IDP) will be forced on you, to say ‘You’ve got to change your land use,’” Stuart Wraight, county senior planner, said during the first session.

Wraight described the IDP as a beginning, and development would follow further process including a Municipal Development Plan and potential town annexation of county land.

The draft identifies land “reserved for future town growth,” including quarter-sections along the western and northern boundaries of current town limits where residential development may occur, he said.

“There is a significant amount of land currently in town’s boundaries, so any future annexation is a long way’s off,” McRae said.

The draft IDP also envisions further industrial development in the quarter-sections along the eastern and northeast boundaries of current town limits.

These quarter-sections may be annexed by the town in a 50-year period, he said.

Sexsmith last annexed county land in 2008 and has an Area Structure Plan (ASP) that sets a framework for commercial and industrial developments on the eastern side of town boundaries.

The industrial development planned for Sexsmith’s annexed areas, as well as in the eastern quarter-sections identified in the IDP, are separated from the rest of the town by Hwy. 2, McRae noted.

Currently, he said Sexsmith has a surplus of land needed for a 15-year period..

The IDP area includes significant wetlands, and McRae said the plan contemplates conservation reserves to protect these resources.

Additionally, the IDP includes a proposal for a regional trail network connecting trails in the Sexsmith area to paths leading to Clairmont Lake, he said.

The Intermunicipal Collaboration Framework was recently approved by both Sexsmith and county councils and defines services offered on a joint basis.

McRae said another public hearing may be held in February before the town and county each adopt the IDP as bylaws.

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