City approves new official plan
by Phil Ambroziak
Three years. That’s how long it took the City of Meadow Lake to go from conducting the initial groundwork to finally approving two pieces of legislation designed to help the community both evolve and flourish well into the future.
During its regular meeting Feb. 9, city council approved both a new Official Community Plan (OCP) and zoning bylaw. Although the documents will now go to the provincial Ministry of Government Relations for final rubber stamping, city manager Diana Burton is confident about what’s in store for Meadow Lake in terms of future growth.
“The Official Community Plan is just that – a plan that sets out the visions, principles and land use policies for the City of Meadow Lake,” Burton explained. “Our last such document was called a Basic Planning Statement and dated back to 1983, so this was a long time coming.”
The new OCP updates everything to present-day planning and development standards and provides the municipality with an avenue to address issues such as economic development, infrastructure development as well as unique issues and opportunities. As for the new zoning bylaw, Burton said it essentially lays out the various tracts of land throughout the city and distinguishes how this land can be developed, whether it be for residential, commercial or industrial purposes.
As for why it took as long as it did for council to approve the new OCP and zoning bylaw, Burton said one of the reasons was the city’s desire to coordinate efforts with those of the North of Divide Community Association (NODCA), which has been working to develop an OCP for the entire district.
“When NODCA submitted their OCP to Community Planning for the minister of government relations to sign off on, it was sent back along with some comments or suggestions,” she said.
Burton added the city delayed sending its OCP to ensure these matters were also addressed locally.
Also, prior to council’s approval, public hearings were held Feb. 9 to give members of the public an opportunity to comment or ask questions about the OCP and the zoning bylaw. While no written submissions were received concerning the OCP, representatives from the local Saskatchewan In Motion steering committee were on hand to share their thoughts on how the plan could be used to help promote Meadow Lake as a destination point for seniors. Among them was Anne Duriez who commended the city for referencing local trails and the community garden in the OCP.
“That’s an example of very forward thinking,” Duriez remarked. “However, many people are expecting the seniors population to double over the next 20 years and I ask that some consideration be made to making Meadow Lake and age-friendly community.”
Later that evening, when it came time to vote on the OCP, councillor Conrad Read addressed Duriez’s suggestion by stating active living, accessibility and other issues pertaining to seniors, as well as all members of the community is something council always considers when making any decision regarding development.
“We always keep these factors at the forefront and proceed with caution,” he said.
Council proceeded to approve the OCP without further amendments.