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New Edmonton MDP stalls Metis plans for cultural and housing developments.

With third reading for Edmonton's Municipal Development Plan a mere formality, Kanata Culture Enterprise Ltd. owns 107 acres of land in the city's River Valley that will probably not be able to deliver the revenue the organization had hoped for.

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"We had a few tears on (Feb. 22), but we're not giving up," said Shelley Wegner, project manager for Kanata, which is headed by the Elizabeth Metis Settlement, with full support of the province's other seven Metis settlements.

The newest version of Edmonton's MDP, which received second reading Feb. 22, includes a clause that will not allow Kanata to mine for gravel on any of its River Valley property. The Natural Resource Extraction portion of the MDP states, "Subject to federal and provincial overriding approvals, resource extraction is prohibited within the North Saskatchewan River Valley and Ravine System. ..."

In the old MDP, resource extraction in that area was covered by a "number of very broad statements," said Tim Ford, the city's senior planner for the west unit. Extraction, with appropriate rehabilitation prior to suburban development, was permitted.

Kanata purchased the River Valley land for $8 million in April 2009 after two months of negotiations with private landowners. In November, council began working on revising the MDP, which is 10 years old. A month later, Kanata applied to the city for rezoning of the site to allow for gravel extraction. The application was complete with all the assessments required by the city including a number of environmental reports. But because documentation for the environmental review was complex, the application had not yet been considered by council.

On the night of the second reading of the MDP, Wegner asked city council to amend the new MDP "where necessary" to allow for Kanata's rezoning application. But, in a vote of 7-6, council denied the request.

The MDP is now in the hands of the Capital Region for review. It is slated to go back to council in May for third and final reading.

But Ford doesn't expect the various city departments to have its recommendation to council for the Kanata rezoning application prior to that, which means Kanata's chances for approval are slim. "This plan says (mining gravel) is prohibited," said Ford.

Kanata's plan also calls for turning the mined and reclaimed River Valley area into a Metis cultural natural area. "We would probably work with them to do something like that because it would be non-intrusive into the land use. Something like that would be more in tune with the River Valley plans," said Ford. But changes to the cultural natural area plans would be required.

Kanata's development proposal, which is wide-reaching, depends on the $50 million worth of revenue to be generated through mining the River Valley property, said Wegner. That funding was to be used to train Metis and Aboriginal workers; to build the Metis cultural natural area; and to purchase land from the city to develop a housing complex.

"People don't really understand how limited opportunities are for Aboriginal communities at large," said Wegner. "We'll keep working with city administration to get the proposal in front of council."

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Title Annotation:EDMONTON; municipal development plan
Author:Narine, Shari
Publication:Alberta Sweetgrass
Geographic Code:1CALB
Date:Mar 1, 2010
Words:521
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