November 14th, 2019

IDP updates include possible joint development

By COLLIN GALLANT on November 8, 2019.

Jeffrey Dowling, the municipal services director for Cyrpess County, points out an area of interest in proposed regional land use plan on an open house on Thursday, Nov. 8, 2019 at the Redcliff Legion.

cgallant@medicinehatnews.com@CollinGallant

A potential avenue for joint economic development in southeast Alberta is included in a new framework for inter-municipal development between Medicine Hat, Redcliff and Cypress County.

The Tri-Area IDP is a 10-year-old document that laid out general land use and procedures for building on the fringes of each of the three partners.

Amendments laid out this week include an area of joint interest northeast of the city and the town, which would be dealt with in concert by planners of each municipality.

Approximately 8,000 acres of land would be earmarked for potential industrial and commercial development, though perhaps decades in the future, but also with the potential for a revenue sharing plan that would still need to be decided.

“We’ve all got different attributes as municipalities, but we’ve got the same goal, and that’s compatible, regional land use and development,” Stan Schwartzenberger, the city’s development commissioner, said at Thursday’s open house in Redcliff. “This approach would be jointly involved in planning, jointly involved … in the buildout, then jointly benefit from the revenues of the development.”

The area, comprising 13 sections in Cypress County south of Township Road 140, is seen by both the city and town as a potential growth area, according to Redcliff Mayor Dwight Kilpatrick, though neither might be able go it alone, either on annexation or developing it.

“I believe that any growth in the area is good,” he said, stating that this falls short of formal agreement on traditional economic development collaboration.

County planners characterized the “rural industrial” expansion zone in the IDP as a “joint planning exercise.”

Jeffrey Dowling, the county’s municipal services director, said the three administrations have done good work on the IDP and working together to develop an industrial parcel would further that.

“We’ve brought the (entire) document up to date,” he said. “We wrote the IDP together in 2009 because we have a good relationship, and we’re very pleased now with the (amendments).”

Individually, IDP amendments leave each partner’s potential growth areas in place from the 2009 agreement. Redcliff’s urban expansion would be directly west from the existing town limits. Cypress County is concentrating on Dunmore, and Medicine Hat has a greater say on county land directly south of S. Boundary Road.

Restrictions are lifted on potential growth in Veinerville – a stipulation in the 2009 agreement at the city’s insistence – but it is limited by the need of the city to provide utility servicing to the small hamlet.

The county would create a greenhouse corridor to regulate two sections of land around existing and future greenhouses north of Highway 3 and bordering the city’s southwest corner.

Cypress County Reeve Dan Hamilton told the News earlier in the day that changes are not a departure from what’s been happening, but publicizes the area to business investment

“The size of things haven’t changed, but we’re bringing some things out into the open and highlighting what’s happened,” said Hamilton. “The (original) plan was written 10 years ago and we’ve been growing all the time.”

The new industrial zone land may not be needed in even the mid-term horizon.

The City of Medicine Hat still has eight bare quarter-sections in the northwest designed for future industrial development. The north side of Redcliff, hit hard by oilfield closures, has vacant shops and land available.

Still, councillors in Medicine Hat have discussed putting together a major proposal for serviced industrial land to market to investors. All three councils have discussed partnering on a potential rail logistics yard.

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