Lac La Biche County has prepared a draft Bylaw (20-026) to regulate environmental reserve lands.
What are environmental reserve lands?
Environmental reserve (ER) lands are municipally-owned, and intended to protect the natural environment, protect people and property from hazardous conditions (such as flooding or erosion) and provide public access to or along lakes and rivers. Designated environmental reserve lands can be found all over the County, and are not exclusive to lakefront owners.
What are the current regulations in place for environmental reserves?
The Municipal Government Act (MGA) section 671 (1) states that environmental reserve must be left in its natural state or be used as a public park. Lac La Biche County’s Land Use Bylaw (LUB) 17-004 section C1.13 currently states that no encroachments are permitted on environmental reserve land.
However, increasingly, unauthorized private development has been occurring on municipally-owned environmental reserve lands. This includes the removal of trees, shrubs and other vegetation, as well as the construction of various types of private structures. The main concerns are that these unauthorized private developments are contradictory to the MGA and the LUB, and may cause environmental degradation or increased erosion.
At the same time, we have heard from residents that they also wish to enjoy Environmental Reserves near lakefront and riverside properties.
What does the new Environmental Reserve Bylaw propose?
Lac La Biche County aims to draft an Environmental Reserve Bylaw that balances environmental protection while also allowing residents to use environmental reserves for enjoyment, under certain conditions. This is a right that private residents did not previously have under provincial and County regulations.
How has previous public feedback influenced the draft Environmental Reserve Bylaw?
Since 2018, Administration has completed multiple public engagement sessions and held discussions with Council regarding the use of environmental reserve lands. On December 8, 2020, Council approved the new draft version of Bylaw 20-036, Lac La Biche County’s Environmental Reserve Bylaw. The new draft bylaw is a balance of the feedback received through public consultation, provincial regulations and the County’s environmental and land management goals.
What are the next steps?
Prior to granting first reading to Bylaw 20-036, Council has directed Administration to conduct public engagement of the draft Bylaw. Administration will hold open house sessions in the new year that meet COVID-19 regulations and protocols.
How do I provide feedback?
If you wish to provide feedback, please email email@example.com or call 780-623-6775.