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Sturgeon County looks at ag-tourism rules

St Albert Farming
FILE PHOTO/St. Albert Gazette

Farmers could rent their land out for wedding receptions for up to 300 people at once under a proposed tweak to Sturgeon County’s land-use laws.

County council was set to consider first reading Feb. 25 of a bylaw that would make “event venue” a discretionary use for lands zoned agricultural in Sturgeon County. Instead, council dropped that item from its agenda to give administration more time to work on it.

Three county landowners had approached administration asking for a way to host commercial, non-farming events on their farmland, Hnatiw explained in an interview. Instead of making one-off rule changes for each of them, administration is working on a new land use that would handle these and other ag-tourism activities.

“We are on the edge of two very large cities and we have beautiful countryside, and people want to come out and enjoy it and do so legally,” Hnatiw said. The goal now is to set out how people can do that through policy without being too onerous.

A report to council said this new land use would cover non-farming commercial events – typically weddings, but not bed-and-breakfasts, guest ranches or home-based businesses – that drew additional visitors to farmland. Anyone who wanted to turn their farmland into an event venue would need a development permit, one that specified hours of operations, on-site parking, noise mitigation measures, emergency response plans, and the anticipated number of visitors, the latter of which could not exceed 300 per day.

County council last tried to regulate ag-tourism and farm weddings in 2017 as part of a revamp of the land-use bylaw, but backed off in the face of mass protests.

Council did not hear when this item would return for first reading.

Kevin Ma

About the Author: Kevin Ma

Kevin Ma joined the St. Albert Gazette in 2006. He writes about Sturgeon County, education, the environment, agriculture, science and aboriginal affairs. He also contributes features, photographs and video.
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