Town council was presented with the Environmental Management Plan during this week’s regular meeting.
According to council notes, staff were directed to provide the plan with, “The aim of providing a thorough overview of the Town’s environmentally significant areas including an inventory, assessment of high value landscapes, long-term environmental goals and outcomes and proposed implementation plan with identified priorities.”
Council was also told the plan will be used to guide and inform the development of new area structure plans and update any existing plans where needed.
Meanwhile, the plan was also presented to the Municipal Planning Commission back on March 6th and a number of public information sessions were also held throughout 2016.
Councillor Chris Lust said it was good to see the plan presented this week, as it was also something that she had suggested some time ago.
“I’m hopeful that as we go along that developers will be mindful of this (material),” she said, adding it’s a crucial point considering how the community continues to grow and extend development into new areas.
“For every acre or hectare that we lose to development, we lose animal habitat,” she said. “I think we need to be really cognizant of that as we continue to (grow) out into these areas where we have animals, birds and other flora and fauna.”
Essentially, the plan, as mentioned, can be seen as a kind of guide to aspects of further development.
“Future developments should be viewed on a case by case basis and project specific approval will be at the discretion of Town council,” noted a portion of the executive summary. “The suggested management recommendations described within the EMP are not policy. Recommended setbacks and development requirements are guidelines that have been derived from scientific research and best management practices and policies of other municipalities in Canada and the U.S.A.
“Much of the land annexed into the Town of Sylvan Lake is undeveloped and contains important natural environmental areas such as wetlands, stream corridors, and large forested areas that have significant ecological value. These natural environmental areas, or environmentally, significant areas (ESAs), support both regional and local environmental processes as well as contribute to a more desirable community in which to live.”
Council was also told as a result of recent talks among staff, “It was decided that the name ‘Environmental Management Plan’ may be misleading as it has connotations of environmental management in a broader context (lagoons, stormwater ponds, etc.) A more accurate name for the plan would be Natural Areas Management Plan and staff recommended that (if) council be minded to approve the plan, that it be subject to the name change.”
Council ultimately approved the plan which was renamed the Natural Areas Management Plan.