A Sturgeon County councillor wants to let farmers carve more parcels out of their land so more people can live and work in the county.
County council voted 6-1 (Coun. Karen Shaw opposed) Sept. 14 in favour of a motion from Coun. Wayne Bokenfohr to have administration review its agricultural subdivision policy as part of its municipal development plan review next year.
Sturgeon County currently lets anyone who owns a quarter-section (160 acres) of farmland subdivide it into up to four parcels, allowing for four homes per quarter-section. That rose to eight per quarter-section in 2017 when council allowed farmers build secondary suites and farm-help accommodation so more generations could live on a family farm.
Bokenfohr said residents in his region have called for more flexibility in how they can divvy up agricultural land so they can make use of land unsuited for farming but suitable for homes.
“We have to look at where our next generations are going to stay,” he said, adding that he himself was only able to stay in Sturgeon due to his father subdividing his land.
“By not allowing more subdivisions in the area, we are forcing the next generation to leave.”
County planning and development services manager Bonnie McInnis said any such changes would be subject to approval by the Edmonton Metropolitan Region Board (EMRB), adding that the board’s Regional Agricultural Master Plan (RAMP) discourages subdivisions that fragment farmland.
“This would be something I think the EMRB would challenge,” she said.
Mayor Alanna Hnatiw said RAMP gives governments more flexibility when it comes to zoning agricultural land and could produce the additional parcels Bokenfohr is seeking.
Administration is set to bring forward a municipal development plan review as part of the 2022 budget.