Lac La Biche County has drafted a proposed Environmental Reserve Bylaw, to address the natural preservation of these lands, public safety, and to prevent pollution of adjacent water bodies, in addition to providing public access to and beside the bed and shore of adjacent water bodies. Together, we can ensure the protection of Environmental Reserves.
Please visit MuniSight to verify your property boundaries in conjunction with this.
Watch the embedded video below for a recorded version of a Q&A session that staff held on March 19, 2021 about the draft Environmental Reserve Bylaw.
What are environmental reserve lands?
Environmental reserve (ER) lands are municipally-owned, and intended to protect the natural environment, protect people and property from hazardous conditions (such as flooding or erosion) and provide public access to or along lakes and rivers. Designated environmental reserve lands can be found all over the County, and are not exclusive to lakefront owners.
What are the current regulations in place for environmental reserves?
The Municipal Government Act (MGA) section 671 (1) states that environmental reserve must be left in its natural state or be used as a public park. Lac La Biche County’s Land Use Bylaw (LUB) 17-004 section C1.13 currently states that no encroachments are permitted on environmental reserve land.
However, increasingly, unauthorized private development has been occurring on municipally-owned environmental reserve lands. This includes the removal of trees, shrubs and other vegetation, as well as the construction of various types of private structures. The main concerns are that these unauthorized private developments are contradictory to the MGA and the LUB, and may cause environmental degradation or increased erosion.
At the same time, we have heard from residents that they also wish to enjoy Environmental Reserves near lakefront and riverside properties.
What does the new Environmental Reserve Bylaw propose?
Lac La Biche County aims to draft an Environmental Reserve Bylaw that balances environmental protection while also allowing residents to use environmental reserves for enjoyment, under certain conditions. This is a right that private residents did not previously have under provincial and County regulations.
How has previous public feedback influenced the draft Environmental Reserve Bylaw?
Since 2018, Administration has completed multiple public engagement sessions and held discussions with Council regarding the use of environmental reserve lands. On December 8, 2020, Council approved the new draft version of Bylaw 20-036, Lac La Biche County’s Environmental Reserve Bylaw. The new draft bylaw is a balance of the feedback received through public consultation, provincial regulations and the County’s environmental and land management goals.
What are the next steps?