New official community plan for RM of Loon Lake

by Phil Ambroziak

It’s been a long time in coming.

The RM of Loon Lake hasn’t updated its official community plan since 1992, a document RM officials describe as an essential piece of the municipal development puzzle. All of that will soon change, however, as the RM prepares to enter the final stages of a lengthy process to establish and implement a modernized version of its framework for the future.

“New official community plans should be developed every five years or every 10 years for sure, so we’re a little behind the eight ball as far as that goes,” remarked RM administrator Laurie Lehoux. “The setbacks are mostly staying in place, but with the new plan also comes the need to approve a new zoning bylaw.”

The new plan, as well as proposed changes to the RM’s zoning bylaw, will be the topic of discussion at a public meeting scheduled for Feb. 15 at the Royal Canadian Legion in Loon Lake. Lehoux said much of what’s being proposed deals with the future development of acreages and lakeshore property.

“There seems to be a bigger demand for acreages in recent years than in the past,” she said. “Also, the current OCP states we cannot have more than three lakeshore developments less than 75 per cent complete at one time, something that’s created a bit of a waiting list. The new OCP changes that. If approved, there will be no limit to the number of lakeshore developments, but we will also be looking at more enhanced facilities on these sites. We want to see value plus development.”

The OCP process began in 2009 and involved all members of RM council. Lehoux said a great deal of assistance was also provided courtesy of the planning firm Crosby Hanna Associates.

“Because our community is so small and is rural-based, they provided us with some ideas and provisions from similar communities they’ve worked with,” Lehoux noted.

While copies of the new OCP (as proposed) will be available at the public meeting, residents interested in getting a sneak peek can do so by picking up a copy at the RM office or by visiting Crosby Hanna Associates’ website.

“The public meeting will be a chance for people to voice their opinions on the new document and let us know whether they’re for it or against it,” Lehoux said. “If there is major opposition, for whatever reason, it will go back to the table to be amended, but the whole process – including another public meeting – would begin all over again. If there is no opposition, it could receive second and third reading right there on the 15th. But, it would still have to go through Community Planning to get the rubber stamp.”

Lehoux, who also serves as administrator for the Village of Loon Lake, said a similar process is also underway in that municipality. This OCP, however, is being developed through the North of Divide Community Association (NODCA). Both OCPs are expected to be completed and in place later this year.

“Official community plans help communities grow,” Lehoux said. “For the RM particularly, it helps us determine what we’d like to see in the future. If we’re going to create a business corridor along the highway, the plan will dictate that. It also allows us to see where our prime agriculture land is and for land that is not prime for producing, we know someone could develop acreages there. It’s something for us to follow so we’re not putting things all over the place.”

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