On Thursday, Jan. 16, Taber administration held a public open house to share the draft version of the new Municipal Development Plan. The event was held from 3 p.m. to 9 p.m., with a presentation explaining the many different parts of the plan by town planning and development manager Cory Armfelt.
“I think it was quite well attended,” said Armfelt. “There were way more people than I expected at the formal presentation component, so I was pretty happy.”
Armfelt estimated the event was attended by up to 80 local residents, while nearly 40 took in the presentation. Local resident Wayne Holstine was in attendance, and he said while there was a lot of good information, it was a lot to take in all at once.
“When this information comes up on the web I’ll have to look at it a little more in-depth and come up with some (ideas), and present those to the council through the questionnaire. I think that’s important.”
“This is a little bit of an information overload,” he added. “There are some things I’ve thought of and some I haven’t, but it’s definitely something that needed to be done.”
Armfelt said the steering committee for the plan was specifically picked in order to give the best representation of Taber demographics as possible. As a result, he said he was confident the suggestions in the draft plan deal with the biggest issues to local residents.
“I’ve been confident all along that we’ve dialed in what the major problems are, and what we have to do to fix them,” he said.
Armfelt noted major concerns included unsightly premises complaints, investments in infrastructure, and changes to land use in regards to light industrial use.
Critical aspects of the plan which were discussed during the presentation include downtown revitalization; unsightly premises; highway commercial and light industrial land base; use of public space; development challenges in the industrial district; parks, recreation, and trail opportunities; and municipal infrastructure expansion and maintenance. Emergency planning, art and cultural growth, and maintenance were also discussed.
“I don’t think I’ve proposed anything revolutionary for how Taber has been grown,” said Armfelt. “From a contemporary planning perspective, it’s just guidelines and planning for the land is what we’ve tried to bring forward.”
Next up for the plan will be a meeting Feb. 20 with local businesses, and another on Feb. 27 for local industrial business owners. The draft will then be taken to council for perusal and possibly first reading. Following that, the draft will be distributed to stakeholders such as the school division and Municipal District of Taber in order to get an official response. There will also be an open council meeting to discuss the plan before the second and then final readings are held.
“If we’ve done our homework right, that should be smooth sailing,” said Armfelt. “I’m pretty confident we can move forward and have official adoption in March or April.”
In the meantime, anyone hoping for a closer look at the draft plan, or who missed the open house and would like to see what the plan entails, can do so by visiting the Town of Taber website at http://www.taber.ca (no dashes or spaces) where the plan is available to view online. Local residents are also encouraged to fill out the online questionnaire in order to help the steering committee better understand the needs and goals of the people of Taber.
Holstine said he’s optimistic for the process, and what it could mean for the future of Taber.
“I’m a business man, so I was interested in seeing what the direction would be for attracting new business and new faces to town,” he said. “I think it’s an uphill battle, and I think everybody’s got to work together to try and make it happen. It’s not going to be easy, but I think if everyone works together it will come to a good end.”
Armfelt said people shouldn’t worry about proposed changes in the draft, and that nothing drastic is being proposed by the plan.
“We’re not changing anything. We’re just giving us and the planning department really, a good tool to use for good development practices.”