Will we trade off our most precious landscapes?

To the Editor:
On June 26, 2017 at 1:00 pm there will be a public hearing for any affected individuals or groups to comment to Kneehill County Council about the proposed Municipal Development Plan.
I suspect that many of the landowners in Kneehill County might surprise themselves if they consider their quiet commitment to and stewardship of the incredible natural wildlife habitats that are part of their own lands. They also may be surprised to know Kneehill County has defined the Environmentally Significant Areas (ESAs) of the county in comprehensive reports dating back to 1991. The first ESA report was replaced in 2010 after another comprehensive regional study. The County did some cutting edge work by defining those areas regionally and incorporating the recommendations of the report into our Municipal Development Plan. The report laid out policies for the county to protect our natural areas from future development. Basically no development in the highest value ESAs (6.9% of the county) and limited development in the lesser value ESAs (6.4%).
The language in the new MDP has drastically reduced the lands we are committed to protecting to those defined by a provincial overview in 2014 (never intended to replace regionally better information). It will throw out the non-legislated policies in the County ESA Study that are vital to actually stopping inappropriate development.
Apparently protecting our ESAs was too hard. Throwing wildlife habitats of our natural areas under the bus started with the approval of a major car and motorcycle racetrack in the Rosebud River Valley, a decision inconsistent with the old Municipal Development Plan. Good planning at the county would have directed the city proponent of this inappropriate use of our river valley to purchase a better suited location. Could it be this new MDP is an attempt to justify that approval?
Kneehill County is one of the sustainably richest areas of this province with excellent cultivated land and richly diverse wildlife habitats in our coulees and valleys. Are we so desperate for economic development to accept every land use reject of the city? Will we trade off our most precious landscapes? The Rosebud community never imagined we would. On June 26 please come to the public hearing and encourage Kneehill County to amend this new MDP.

Wendy Clark
Rosebud, AB
Kneehill County residen