NODCA holds stakeholder advisory meeting

By Rhonda Cooper

The first Stakeholder Advisory Group meeting for the North of Divide Community Association (NODCA) was held Sept. 1 in Meadow Lake followed by a public open house in Goodsoil the same evening.

“We had between 40 and 45 people show for the stakeholder’s meeting today,” said Janelle Wyman, senior planner with planningAlliance, one of the three-member team working with NODCA. “Along with NODCA members we also had representatives from the First Nations, Watershed Authority and Parks.”

Wyman’s presentation was a summary of the information gathered over the past few months.

“We started in April doing community tours and a lot of background research. We needed to get a really good picture of the region in order to move forward into the next stage of the process,” she said.

Delegates at the meeting not only provided feedback to the background material but also asked to identify positives and shortfalls of their district. By providing this information, NODCA and its support team can come back with potential development options for the area.

“The region is growing and it is a good time for communities to look at establishing a plan,” said Wyman. “For example, one area is recreation development where some people want to look at creating a tourist hub such as Sylvan Lake, (Alta.) while others want to keep it smaller, more local. You get all types of opinions.”

The feedback from the meeting and the open house will allow the team to move forward into the next stage – development proposals. The goal is to have those in place within the next couple of months indicated Wyman.

“The community planning perspective is going well,” said Murray Rausch, NODCA chairperson. “This allows us to focus on other areas such as zoning bylaws and emergency measures.”

While growth is a great thing for a region, it puts pressure on a number of areas, said Rausch. Infrastructure such as distribution lines for water and sewer, roads and volunteer fire departments are often overlooked until something goes wrong or an emergency arises.

“We need to take a careful look at people’s comments so we can determine where there may be gaps,” said Raush.

Rausch indicated the biggest challenge NODCA overcame was people’s fear of commitment.

“Commitment means time and no one ever seems to have enough of that. But we have a group who has made this a priority and I respect everyone’s flexibility especially when discussing areas they themselves may have already dealt with. I believe one of our biggest successes is that by speaking as one voice, rather than as eight individuals, we are actually heard by those, such as government, who need to hear us.”

NODCA is made up of eight communities – RM of Meadow Lake No. 588, RM of Beaver River No. 622, RM of Loon Lake No. 561, City of Meadow Lake, Village of Dorintosh, Village of Goodsoil, Village of Pierceland and the Village of Loon Lake. The primary goal of NODCA is the development of a plan for the future look of the area.

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