Sturgeon County disappointed with regional vote limiting future growth and jobs, considering next steps

Sturgeon County is evaluating its next steps to support investment and new jobs in the Villeneuve Airport area, after the Edmonton Metropolitan Region Board (EMRB) rejected its development plan.

Seven of the EMRB’s 13 member municipalities supported the plan; however, the plan needed support from nine municipalities – including Sturgeon County and the City of Edmonton – to be approved. While most municipalities were in support, the City of Edmonton’s rejection resulted in defeat due to the voting structure of the EMRB. Other urban municipalities also voted against the plan, including the cities of St. Albert, Fort Saskatchewan, Leduc and Beaumont, and the Town of Stony Plain.

“We are deeply disappointed that nearly five years of collaboration and cooperation with multiple partners has resulted in rejection of this plan — a plan that would support thousands of jobs and attract nearly two billion in investment for the benefit of the entire region.

“This is a significant missed opportunity to support local job creation and economic investment, and we’re saddened that current and future generations of workers will have to seek opportunities outside of our region in several key sectors. 

“The Regional Growth Plan was developed more than a decade ago and lacks the flexibility needed to address Alberta’s changing economic realities. Municipal governments have the choice to encourage investment and support opportunities for the benefit of the entire region; however, the lack of support from some municipalities today indicates there is a focus on short-term self-interest and prioritization of red tape. These concerning actions bring into question the effectiveness of the regional Board as a mechanism to serve residents and meet its provincial mandate to manage growth, promote sound planning and drive economic development.” – Mayor Alanna Hnatiw

Sturgeon County will consider its next steps carefully over the weeks to come.

Municipalities must refer new development plans to the EMRB – a requirement under the Municipal Government Act – so they can be evaluated for consistency with the EMRB’s Regional Growth Plan. In late March, EMRB administration recommended board members refuse the County’s application; it noted it did not have authority to recommend approval since it lacked guidance in the Growth Plan for adjusting a major employment area.

The County’s plan supported and managed growth on the land around the Villeneuve Airport, and was developed in partnership with the Edmonton Regional Airport Authority and numerous other stakeholders. Approval would have enabled the County to continue planning infrastructure and supporting new investment across many sectors, including aviation and aerospace, defence, research and testing, advanced manufacturing, renewable energy research, agri-innovation and logistics.

Related information

A fire restriction is in effect for Sturgeon County and the towns of Bon Accord, Legal and Redwater.

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