By Trevor Busch
Town council received a preliminary look at a new Municipal Development Plan for the community, and the bylaw is now headed back to the public for input in May and June prior to a final approval.
At their April 11 regular meeting, town council voted unanimously to pass first reading of Municipal Development Plan Bylaw 7-2016, set a date for an open house for May 25, and set a date for a public hearing on June 13.
“These are two new fresh tools (Municipal Development Plan Bylaw 7-2016 and Land-Use Bylaw 6-2016) that we are very keen on starting to use,” said planning director Cory Armfelt. “The Municipal Development Plan is really that visionary document to guide us through the specifics of the Municipal Development Plan.”
The process to create a new Municipal Development Plan (MDP) began in 2013, and over the past several years administration has used a variety of public engagement approaches to “capture the vision for Taber,” including open houses, facilitated sessions, and student consultation.
“It really is a refresh from the previous Municipal Development Plan as the Town of Taber has grown quite significantly over the years since the previous municipal development plan was awarded,” said Armfelt.
In 2015, the Town of Taber hired Brown and Associates to finalize the MDP. Through finalization, 13 goals were identified as priorities in giving direction for creating policies for the community, including economic prosperity, environmental responsibility, social sustainability, healthy and mixed-use downtown, promoting a variety of housing types, healthy neighbourhoods, urban design, parks and pathways, culture and community, respect for heritage, property standards, maximizing existing infrastructure, and sustainable design.
“In the Municipal Development Plan, you have much longer-term planning goals, while in the Land-Use Bylaw you have very short-term planning goals,” said Armfelt.
Local stakeholder organizations such as Taber and District Community Adult Learning Association, school authorities, Municipal District of Taber, and all internal departments will be notified of the open house and public hearing.
The MDP has been reviewed by the Municipal Planning Commission, and approval of the MDP was recommended on Jan. 18, 2016.
Sec. 632 of the Municipal Government Act outlines the legislative framework for municipal development plans, with all municipalities with a population over 3,500 required to have an approved Municipal Development Plan.
The MDP aligns with many of the goals outlined in council’s Strategic Plan, including encouraging recreational and cultural opportunities, building an affordable and attractive community, strengthening infrastructure, encouraging the development of educational offerings for all ages, and promoting economic development.
The MDP was budgeted $25,000 in 2015. According to administration, there have been changes to the community since the current MDP was endorsed in 1998, which obviated the creation of a new plan which “better depicts the vision of the community”.
“At first glance, let’s get going on it, and listen to the public,” said Mayor Henk DeVlieger. “That’s my opinion.”