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Views Surprising At PLUP Consultation

“Agriculture tries to protect everything.”

– COMMENT AT LAND USE POLICYMEETING

You’d think people in the country would be against urban expansion while people in cities would be OK with it.

But a recent Manitoba public land use policy review found that’s not always the case.

City dwellers are sometimes more opposed to urban sprawl than rural residents. And people in rural areas often feel policies to protect agricultural land are too restrictive, according to feedback from a recent series of public workshops on proposed new provincial land use policies (PLUP).

Comments such as “Stop sprawl, such as bedroom communities” and “Rural areas should not be all things. It is important to keep rural, rural and urban, urban,” emerged from a PLUP workshop in Winnipeg.

Meanwhile, meetings held in rural communities sometimes took issue with the province’s policy goal of preserving prime agricultural land.

“Policies will depopulate rural areas,” was one comment from a meeting in Gilbert Plains. “Policies discourage people from living in rural areas,” was another from a Shoal Lake meeting. “Policy is too restrictive,” came from a meeting of mayors and reeves.

“Agriculture tries to protect everything,” was another remark Bob Grodzik recalled hearing at one of the rural meetings.

Grodzik, a Manitoba Intergovernmental Affairs senior policy planner, said he wasn’t surprised that some in the country believe agricultural land use policy is too rigid, while others in the city feel it isn’t rigid enough.

But even in rural areas opinions are divided. Some feel agricultural land needs greater protection while others want fewer restrictions on its use, Grodzik said.

For that reason, the province is trying to strike a middle-of-the road-approach. Prime agricultural land use will be controlled while marginal farmland will be subject to fewer use restrictions.

Not surprisingly, a proposal to limit subdivisions on prime agricultural land to 80 acres drew the most reaction from rural respondents, sometimes at the same meeting.

“One subdivision per 80 acres is too restrictive,” read one comment from the Gilbert Plains meeting. The very next one read, “One subdivision per 80 acres is good. Should not be able to resubdivide.”

Intergovernmental Affairs conducted public consultation workshops throughout the province in April and May. A compilation of remarks emerging from the workshops is available at www.manitoba.ca/plups/index.html.

Grodzik said a report with recommendations will go to cabinet by fall. Land use policies are expected to be finalized before the end of 2009.

Manitoba first adopted provincial land use policies in 1980. They were revised in 1994 to include the principles of sustainable development. Livestock development was incorporated into the agriculture policy in 2006. [email protected]

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