Alberta will be split into six regions to help “strengthen the balance” between economic planning and the environment — one of six strategies in a proposed land-use plan unveiled by the Tory government yesterday.
The proposed land-use planning policy, however, is vague when it comes to controlling the rapid pace of growth with Alberta’s controversial oilsands projects, say critics.
“Our object is to manage growth, not stop it,” said Sustainable Resource Minister Ted Morton.
“I don’t consider (the land-use plan) will curtail growth, but the focus is going to be on sustaining it.”
In the proposed plan, each new region to be set up by the government will be based on the number of watersheds in each zone. Each will have an individual plan set by the province when it comes to development, such as setting targets for emissions, water use and other environmental impacts.
Each region under the new plan would be responsible in coming up with its own policies for housing, farming, resource development and recreation.
Morton says municipal governments will still have the power to make decisions on new developments at a local level, but those decisions must be consistent with the province’s regional plan.
Alberta Liberal critic David Swann says he agrees with the new land-use policy, but is concerned the province didn’t make mention of how it would pace developments. And he said the process of implanting the plan will take too long.
“This is going to open up a free-for-all in the next few years, they’ve already mentioned they are not going to slow down development, so this is a concern,” said Swann.
A new strategy for Alberta’s transportation and utility corridors, a new parks plan, a plan to minimize flood damage, and a strategy to control recreation on public lands is also being called for in the draft.