31 May 2007

Paving paradise

Alberta looks to public for direction on land use

Frank Young has an instant answer when asked what sort of land plan the province should adopt. The Calgary psychologist points to a poster of Okotoks, a town that long ago decided to live within its means, setting a limit on its growth based on the availability of water in the Sheep River. "It's development within a sustainable context," said Young as he and his wife took in the Alberta government's open house on land planning Wednesday. "The alternative to that is endless suburbanization. Pave paradise and put up a parking lot. That's what has been happening. Lack of planning has been the hallmark of the Alberta government." It's a hallmark that Young hopes the government is ready to abandon. After a year of talking with organizations, municipalities and businesses about creating a provincewide blueprint to guide development decisions, the Alberta government has turned its attention to the public, seeking input from Albertans at a series of open houses. The province is examining all kinds of development and land conflicts, everything from oilsands to residential sprawl to mud bogging. For a business like Lafarge, losing land plentiful with sand and gravel to other commercial ventures and residential housing is a concern. The company is having to travel farther for these materials, which are in high demand in Alberta's booming economy. In turn, extra kilometres on the road mean more harmful emissions released into the environment, said Trevor Feicht of Lafarge. Alberta's surging economy is fuelling the government's desire to create a land plan. There are just too many people wanting to do too many things on the same piece of land, Sustainable Resource Minister Ted Morton contends.
(Calgary Herald 070531)

The hallmark of the Alberta provincial government, at least over the last decade, has been a complete lack of proper planning regarding things such as land use issues, economic management, and public coffer evaluations (esp. the Heritage Fund). That's what happens when you get a one-trick pony in power for multiple terms. They forget (or never properly learn) how to do or manage anything other than what was specified in their mandate. That's what the Klein government did with all of these issues, and now the Stelmach government is following closely behind. Nothing like screwing things up royally, permanently!

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