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City, county trying to work through planning disputes

The City and County of Grande Prairie are looking to avoid getting the province involved in a pair of planning disputes. Councils from both communities met last week in a rare joint meeting to try to figure out the next steps in resolving them.

The city is in the third and final phase of its Hughes Lake Area Structure Plan for the land between the Grande Prairie Airport and Highway 43. The county recently turned down the city’s offer to do an analysis of the traffic impact before any significant subdivision or development is done or Range Road 70 and 132 Avenue are aligned.

Instead, Reeve Leanne Beaupre says they want one done as part of the Area Structure Plan itself. The county is primarily concerned about the potential impact on traffic on Range Road 70, as it is likely to become a main road once the new Highway 43 bypass is built.

“This area has seen unprecedented growth,” Beaupre explains. “In discussion with Alberta Transportation, we have looked at long-term planning for some additional corridors to move traffic from north to south, so we want to make sure that we’re doing the planning right.”

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The county is working on its own Area Structure Plan for the Correction Line Area, which is just west of Sunrise Estates, three kilometres south of Grande Prairie. Mayor Bill Given says the city is worried about development there, as it’s part of its long-term plans for annexation.

“The city’s view is that the Intermunicipal Development Plan provides certain limits on how much development can happen in this area that is intended to be a long term growth area for the city. The city’s view is that the Correction Line Area Structure Plan exceeds that.”

The Intermunicipal Development Plan is a document that deals with land use planning that affects both the city and county. It says land development for industrial and commercial purposes is allowed with certain conditions, that can be exceeded if there’s good reason.

Wanting to resolve both disputes without sending them to Alberta Municipal Affairs, a mediated meeting between both sides will be scheduled for before June 15th. Beaupre and Given both believe they can be sorted out without having a third party make a decision for them.

“We’ve heard from our residents… that they want their municipal leaders to work together to come up to some resolution on some of these issues,” says Beaupre. “They want them to be decided by a local authority.”

“We are, I think, very capable of solving this locally,” adds Given. “We’re saying that it’s helpful to have somebody who’s independent to be able to manage that meeting.”

Staff told the councillors that taking the issues to would be costly and time consuming, and mean uncertainty for developers.

The Hughes Lake Area Structure Plan, City of Grande Prairie
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