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MD ready for next steps after MDP visioning sessions

“This is what administration has brought to us in terms of the message they received from the public. How it can be brought forward into the municipal development plan.”
MD of Bighorn building winter 4
The MD of Bighorn administration building in Exshaw. RMO FILE PHOTO

MD OF BIGHORN – Over the course of two months, eight visioning sessions were conducted by the MD of Bighorn as part of an update of its Municipal Development Plan (MDP).

The sessions featured 111 residents from the MD coming out to voice their opinions on the direction of the municipality moving forward.

“I think it went great,” Reeve Lisa Rosvold said. “I think we heard a lot of voices from all the areas in the MD of Bighorn.”

The MDP is a statutory document through the Municipal Government Act. It has the intent of communicating long-term desired land use for a community and serves as a high-level blueprint showing how a community is expected to change over time. The last time the MD of Bighorn’s MDP was updated was 2012.

“Our job as a council is to listen to what the community is looking for and bringing that information as well as the rules and regulations of the Municipal Government Act, and how to merge those two visions into a plan,” Reeve said.

The information was compiled in an easy-to-read manner for the public, highlighting the original MDP vision and guiding principles, and the draft MDP vision and guiding principles.

“This is what administration has brought to us in terms of the message they received from the public,” Rosvold said. “How it can be brought forward into the municipal development plan.”

Through the visioning sessions, the vision statement for the draft MDP added working with the Indigenous peoples of the area and seeking genuine reconciliation opportunities. This addition was something Chris Long, president of the Dead Man’s Flats Community Association, was happy to see.

“It seems like they really care about people having an opportunity to be heard,” Long said.

The guiding principles of the current MDP include respecting the environment, managing growth, coordinating planning and community involvement, cooperating with other communities and the government, providing a stable economy and a high quality of life and rural nature opportunities.

“This is currently a draft,” Rosvold said. “This draft vision statement and guiding principles will be brought back to the communities.”

The draft MDP, through the visioning sessions, has those same principles with some alterations, but adds advocating the role of Indigenous traditional knowledge in an approach to environmental stewardship. The draft MDP guiding principles also include recognizing the potential for future transportation choices, creating a regenerative approach to tourism and a focus on emergency preparedness.

“The new things they added, the tourism, the recreation – that is important,” Long said. “They put something about respectful communication and nurturing relationships with other levels of government. Trying to have a better line of communication is really important it seems to this council. I like that a lot.”

Overall, Long was very happy with how much engagement Bighorn council had with residents through the visioning sessions.

“It wasn’t just 'let’s go through the motions because we have to ask people about this.’ It seemed like they really wanted to know what we wanted,” Long said. “There is new stuff in the results that is stuff we talked about in the visioning sessions.”

The efforts of the MD to provide extra opportunities for input was also praised by Long.

“They even planned extra visioning sessions to try and get all the different hamlets together,” Long said. “They invited the First Nations to come to the visioning sessions so everyone could hear what each other had to say.”

Rosvold was very happy with how much engagement there was with the public as well, saying she was surprised by the number of people that came out.

“I attended five of them myself, and the ones I attended, with the exception of one, were very well attended,” Rosvold said. “I was very pleased with the amount of input and engagement we had so far in this process.”

Long echoed Rosvold and noted residents were eager for the opportunity to be heard in what is one of the most important documents for a municipality.

“At Dead Man’s, we had a great turnout. The residents want to be heard, and they showed up,” he said. “The biggest thing to me is that they want to hear from us and our people have things to say. That is a good way to work with it.”

Now, council will begin the next steps by turning the draft MDP into the new MDP for the MD of Bighorn.

“I am excited for the next step of this process to see what the community of the MD of Bighorn thinks of this draft,” Rosvold said. “We are in the process of contracting out the final steps of this. Just so it is done through a third-party perspective. So that the conclusions are found through an independent lens.”

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