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Municipalities moving forward with joint development plans

The County of Grande Prairie is making progress on new partnerships with its neighbours. It’s now in the beginning phases on creating Intermunicipal Development Plans with the Towns of Beaverlodge, Sexsmith, and Wembley, as well as the Village of Hythe.

The provincial government has mandated that all municipalities that share boundaries have to have a plan in place by April 2020 to deal with future growth. The County has had an agreement with the City of Grande Prairie since 1982.

Speaking in Grande Prairie Thursday, Minister of Municipal Affairs Shaye Anderson stressed the importance of municipalties working together, and why Intermunicipal Collaboration Frameworks were required in the Municipal Government Act.

“We have to be more efficient with our money and what we’re doing, so it makes sense to work with your neighbours because residents don’t look at the boundaries; they look at where the services are and that’s where they’re going to go.”

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An ICF between the City, Towns of Sexsmith and Wembley, and the Horse Lake First Nation is currently being worked on with a $100,000 grant from the province, as is one between the County, Beaverlodge, Hythe, Sexsmith and Wembley. The County and Sexmith received a similar grant.

If any bordering communities can’t come to an agreement, Anderson says mediation is available, and the matter will go to arbitration after two years.

“But there’s lots of steps in between. We want to make sure we have tools for people, templates. We don’t have to reinvent the wheel; there’s a lot of good examples that people can use.”

The County says land owners affected by the Intermunicipal Development Plans will be given opportunities to give their input on land use policies and their long-term vision for the community. Public engagement is expected to start in April or May.

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