Environmental Reserve (ER)

Smoky Lake County Municipal Development Plan Bylaw 1249-12 

3.2  Environmental Management 

Smoky Lake County includes a range of valuable and unique environmental features which support not only the County’s ecosystem but also the economic, social and cultural systems throughout the County.  Recognizing that a successful and sustainable future is dependent on the vitality of all of the interconnected systems (built and natural environment, economic, social and cultural) the County has adopted a strong approach, for environmental management.

Low Net Negative Environmental Impact

The County recognizes that the goal of environmental protection cannot mean total ecological integrity.  Simply put, a municipality cannot reasonably expect to maintain the full structure of the ecosystem and still have roads and buildings. Rather the goal must be the achievement of a healthy environment or one that does not show symptoms of stress such as:

  • decreased water quality; and/or
  • significantly reduced biodiversity.

3.3  Reserves and Conservation Easements

In certain instances – as outlined in the Municipal Government Act – the subdivision process can involve the dedication of Reserve lands to the County.  Currently the Municipal Government Act identifies three (3) types of reserves which may be taken during subdivision by a County.   They are: Municipal Reserves, Environmental Reserves and Environmental Reserve Easements.  Conservation Easements cannot be taken by a municipality at time of subdivision but can be utilized by a private land owner or a Municipality to protect significant environmental areas.

Municipal Reserves can be used by a municipality as public parks, public recreation areas, for school authority purposes or as buffers between parcels of land which are used for different purposes.   Depending on the circumstances, money may be taken by the County in lieu of Municipal Reserve dedication.

Environmental reserves, environmental reserve easements and conservation easements are three tools municipalities can use to ensure that:

a)  development does not occur on hazard lands;

b)  significant environmental areas are protected; and

c)  the public can access Significant Cultural Landscapes.

Environmentally sensitive ecological features require special attention when being considered for development.  Such areas include lands subject to a flooding hazard, ravines, steep slopes, and areas subject to erosion.  Council intends to have regard for these sensitive areas when making development decisions. 

Lake Shoreline 101

Why is ER taken by the County? 

In accordance with Section 664 of the Municipal Government Act, Environmental Reserve (ER) may be required: 

  • to preserve the natural features of land...
  • to prevent pollution of the land or of the bed and shore of an adjacent body of water;
  • to ensure public access to and beside the bed and shore of a body of water lying on or adjacent to the land;
  •  to prevent development of the land where, in the opinion of the subdivision authority, the natural features of the land would present a significant risk of personal injury or property damage occurring during development or use of the land.