Thorhild County Friends Fighting the Proposed Land Use Bylaw
Posted on February 02, 2023
As recent reports are proving, the War on Farmers is LOCAL
See this social media post from a landowner on the frontlines in Thorhild County, Alberta...
Hello Fellow Albertans!! I implore you all to IMMEDIATELY familiarize yourself with your local Land Use Bylaw. Also, pay attention to whether it has been updated recently or is in the process of being updated. Keep reading to find out why!
I reside in Thorhild County. Thorhild county, North East of Edmonton, is a small municipality that is more than 99% rural by land use. There isn’t even one town in our county, but there are 7 hamlets ranging in population from 24 people to 391 people. In fact, in our entire county of 1997.17 km2, the total population is only 3042 people.
Currently, we are fighting a proposed Land Use Bylaw (LUB) complete rewrite. A company called Green Space Alliance Urban Planning Firm (GSA) was contracted at a price of $100k to do the rewrite. They have an office in Edmonton but are based out of India and their specialty is large urban centres (Mumbai as an example!). The rewrite they did for our county is deplorable, excessively punitive, and very clearly not designed for rural communities, but rather more strongly patterning large urban center templates.
I will say the county did the (bare minimum) of their due diligence to make people aware of this incoming change through advertising on their FB, Twitter, website, and local newsprint. However, a quick glance at their social media shows that their engagement is embarrassingly low. They should have realized at some point that the information was not being received. In fact, when the GSA sent surveys out, only 61 people participated. Does that sound like adequate participation numbers to confidently say you have satisfactorily engaged the public in the process? I would say not.
At any rate, not to pat myself on the back, but had it not been for me one morning sitting down with a coffee to read this bylaw (about 1 week prior to the Public Hearing) and rapidly hopping on social media to sound the alarm, I am quite certain this bylaw would have been passed, without contest, on Jan 10. I began an aggressive social media campaign to ensure as many of my community members were aware of the dangers if this bylaw were to pass, and the movement took on a life of its own! Prior to that, literally NO ONE was talking about it.
We had 47 people show up to the Public Hearing, 10 people gave impassioned presentations about all the ways this bylaw would affect them, and the whole community, negatively. The council had no choice but to put forth a motion to take more time to go though the information provided in the presentations. They have not given us a timeline as to when they will revisit this. We (a group of us concerned citizens) booked a community hall and had a staggering 193 people attend where they were presented with what we know so far about what our legal options are for interceding in this LUB process. It was pretty incredible.
I believe there is a province-wide campaign for Alberta municipalities (perhaps even nationally!?) to update their land use bylaws right now. This is no mistake. This is clearly NWO driven in my opinion. I hope to somehow bring awareness to what’s going on here but NO MEDIA outlets will provide us any kind of coverage or support whatsoever. I would love if we are able to bring some attention to this provincially, maybe even nationally (that’s too much to hope for!) and IF we are successful in staving off this assault on our liberties, to make it VIRAL and help other municipalities stop the local abuses of power that are working to prevent us from living freely, providing our own food security etc. You know!! ALL the things they want to use to control us!!
Some of this impacts us is:
Like I mentioned, we are a predominantly rural community. Less than 1% of our total land use is “urban”. By population, we are approximately 72% rural/agricultural (so approximately only 28% of the County’s population lives in the hamlet mentioned). Despite this, the proposed LUB includes the following regulations (just as a few examples of the atrocities contained therein)
ALL zones will require a permit for barbed wire fencing (in a farming community!)
ALL zones are subject to a sister bylaw titled the “Urban Hen Bylaw” which, in it’s current state (though not yet passed) limits you to have a minimum of 2 and a maximum of 4 laying hens. In order to secure a permit to possess these hens you must be a landowner, take an approved Hen Care course, apply for a PID#, apply for a permit, secure a written letter of consent of every neighbor who has property adjoining yours (in a county where farmers have hundreds of farmed acres!) , provide the Land Title certificate to your home secured no more than 14 days prior to your application (which is impossible given how backed up they are....I’ve been waiting 11 months!), strict regulations on the size, design, placement of your “hen enclosure”, have the enclosure inspected and pass inspection prior to use, and agree to the county requirement that an inspector (peace officer) can enter your premises at any time without warrant to inspect, as a condition of your license. Again, this is written in a Land Use Bylaw in a county that is 99% rural/agricultural by land!
In addition to that nonsense there is now a limit on the number of “accessory” buildings. Max 4. If you know anything about farming, this is beyond ridiculous.
Also for any buildings that have not been used in 6 months, you will be required to apply for a new permit for. So grain crop not good and you only use half your grain storage, those unused grain storage buildings become instantly illegal and a new permit must be applied for.
Country Residential areas are limited to 10 shrubs that must be a 50/50 mix of coniferous/deciduous shrubs, as well as have only 2 coniferous TREES and 2 deciduous TREES. Certainly if you live in the city, this may not seem offside. But if you live in the country where your nearest neighbor is literally miles away, you can see how ridiculous this is!
There are more than 100 instances where it states that permits will be issued “at the discretion of” “based on the opinion of” etc.. Extremely subjective.
I could go on and on.....
THE MOST INSIDIOUS PART is that it’s 100% RETROACTIVE!!!! So even if you are in compliance with with existing LUB, once the new one comes into effect, the new one applies!!!! And you will be subject to daily fines for non-compliance!!!
We have been in contact with Municipal Affairs who have provided us with some limited guidance. They have no authority or jurisdiction to intercede however.
I fully believe our situation up here in Thorhild County is in no way isolated, and I would STRONGLY suggest that each and every one of you become intimately familiar with your own LUB.
For anything you find issue with, IMMEDIATELY send an email to the councillor for your division, and cc the CAO at minimum. It would not be offside to cc every councillor and anyone else on your administration payroll.
If you have any questions (or suggestions) of how we are proceeding to protect our community, or on steps you can take in your own community, please feel free to fire us off an email at [email protected]
The section where I mention “Urban Hen Bylaw” is not correct. Per the draft version of the proposed LUB, “Urban Hen Bylaw”, (when/if created) will apply to Hamlet Residential districts, Mixed-Use districts, and Manufactured Home Districts.
A bylaw titled “Animal Control Bylaw” will apply to Country Residential, Agricultural, and Hamlet Agricultural districts.
However, the Urban Hen Bylaw does not yet exist, and the Animal Control Bylaw currently only refers to dogs, not hens or other livestock. Sorry for the confusion and mistake on my part!!***