The Plan:  What does it mean and how will it be used?

 

Regional plans are a product of a planning process under the Alberta Land Stewardship Act.  The ELC has prepared a primer that provides general information about the planning process. 

 

The NSRP is the third plan to be developed (behind the Lower Athabasca Regional Plan and the South Saskatchewan Regional Plan).

 

Drafted appropriately they will guide development of the region into the future. 

 

Key attributes of the plans include:

 

  • The plans are binding on government decision makers (including provincial and municipal decision makers and provincial deletgated bodies - such as the Alberta Energy Regulator).  

  • Municipalities, government officials, and boards and tribunals which deal with environmental matters must follow the plans.

  • Plans can deal with acute and cumulative environmental effects.

  • The plans can deal with specific authorizations and can direct how activities are carried out (although the two plans that have been approved to date have not been that detailed).

 

The Planning Process

 

The regional planning process has several stages, including:

 

  • Formation of a Regional Advisory Council (RAC) bringing together a variety of prospectives to make plan recommendations;

  • Creation of a Terms of Reference to guide the plan (approved by Cabinet);

  • The Land Use Secretariat provides planning and drafting support to the process;

  • The issuance of a draft regional plan, when public consultation occurs; and

  • The issuance of a final Cabinet approved plan.

 

The Environmental Law Centre recommends that regional plans should be factually based and seek to prevent degradation of the environment.  This requires identification of various risks and opportunities for the region that should be tackled by the regional plan.