As we told you in our last update, Council approved terms of reference for both a targeted and a comprehensive review of the County Plan at its January 22nd meeting. Both had to come back to Council for funding. On February 26th, Council approved $150,000 for an external consultant to do the targeted review. Then on March 12th, Admin presented a report recommending approval of an additional $400,000 for consulting services to undertake the comprehensive review.
The discussion that ensued was, at its best, disjointed and chaotic. Council got completely tangled up in discussing potential amendments to the comprehensive review’s terms of reference. The main cause of the confusion was Deputy Reeve Schule & Reeve Beohlke’s attempt to eliminate elements in the terms of reference that they did not support and add in additional elements that they did support.
To help Council extricate itself from the weeds, CAO Hoggan explained that if Council took specific issues out of the comprehensive review, the review would become an expanded targeted review rather than a comprehensive review. Instead, a much simpler approach would be for Council to simply direct Administration to undertake a comprehensive review of the County Plan.
After significantly more procedural confusion, that is where Council ended up. The targeted review and its funding have been cancelled. The comprehensive review is going forward with the recommended $400,000 budget, but with no specific terms of reference. However, the majority on Council also approved moving forward with three amendments to the existing County Plan that Schule had included in the targeted review:
· removal of the population targets for hamlets;
· permitting business development outside of ASP areas; and
· changing Langdon’s local business area designation to a regional business area designation.
Councillor Wright raised concerns that this, in effect, continued the targeted review, but without any meaningful public consultation. CAO Hoggan assured Council that there would be some level of public engagement before these amendments were approved. No details are available regarding the County’s intentions for this public engagement.
We will keep you posted on any further developments, especially news about public consultations on Schule’s amendments and on the comprehensive review itself. It will be critically important for residents to participate as fully as possible in all consultations.
If you are interested in watching Council’s debate of the County Plan issues, you can access it here. The discussion starts at 38:55 and goes until 50:53. It then recommences at 3:03:48 and runs until the end of the council meeting.