Nature park bylaw would protect areas

A local wildlife habitat could be getting an extra layer of protection from Grand Forks city council.

A local wildlife habitat could be getting an extra layer of protection from Grand Forks city council after a bylaw was drafted that would see the area zoned as a “protected natural area.”

At the Oct. 11 meeting of council, councillors gave the first and second readings to the Johnson Flats Wetland Nature Park Bylaw number 2035. The bylaw came following a directive from council early in the summer to ask staff to create a zoning amendment that would create the “protected natural areas” designation. The area is currently zoned as R-4 Rural Residential.

The bylaw was given only first and second reading, as opposed to the customary three readings, to allow for councillor questions and potential changes, said Grand Forks Engineering Technologist Graham Watt. Changes can be made easily after two readings, but after a third reading changing the bylaw essentially takes the process back to step one.

The bylaw as proposed did not require a public meeting as per usual when changing zoning because it is a park dedication bylaw. Council can reserve or dedicate these parks at will, by bylaw, with the affirmative vote of two thirds of city councillors, according to the memo included in the council agenda package.

This bylaw follows on the heels of an event earlier this summer, when city staff and councillors welcomed local classes into the space. The event also marked the unveiling of the new protected natural areas signage in the adjoining dog park.

According to a timeline presented to council, the bylaw will go to a third reading at the Oct. 24 meeting and final reading and adoption at the Nov. 7 meeting.