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Proposed changes to Barrhead County land-use bylaw cause concern

Crowd packs Barrhead Legion for “emergency meeting” for LUB but also hear discussions on everything from WEF and UNDRIP
Careyleigh Thiessen from the Voice of Thorhild County was the key note speaker at a Feb. 27 event at the Barrhead Royal Canadian Legion advertised on social media as an "emergency meeting" about proposed changes to the County of Barrhead's land-use bylaw.

BARRHEAD - An undisclosed group including individuals from outside the community organized an "emergency meeting" at the Barrhead Royal Canadian Legion on Feb. 27 to discuss potential changes to the County of Barrhead land-use (LUB) bylaws.

The group wants the municipality to press the hold button and hold extensive consultation before the land-use bylaws pass. 

However, the close to 300 people in attendance, in addition to discussion on the County of Barrhead's draft LUB and land-use bylaws in general, heard speeches and comments on everything from the World Economic Forum, United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples to how was trying to depopulate and how the COVID pandemic was a hoax and how Bluetooth can be used to identify those who have been COVID vaccinated.

Westlock resident Benita Pederson, a self-proclaimed freedom fighter organizer and participant in protests across the province, said a group of concerned individuals (not divulging who they were, numbers, or where they were from) organized the meeting and that she was there to provide support to the group, primarily through technical assistance through sound and videoing of the event. 

Pederson was also one of the main speakers for the evening and manned one of the petition tables.

The petition stated that the County of Barrhead's LUB did not meet the needs of its citizens, that it should not be changed without extensive consultation, and that they should "scrap" moving forward with any changes until that consultation took place.

Pederson also spent several minutes discussing her efforts opposing the municipality's Pride crosswalk, including promoting the Town of Westlock's Crosswalk and Flagpole Bylaw, which went to a Feb. 22 plebiscite, passing narrowly by 24 votes. The bylaw forbids the municipality from flying non-governmental flags on municipal flagpoles or painting local crosswalks in a manner other than in a white-laddered pattern.

The first speaker, Sheldon from Callahoo, said, "a plethora of land-use bylaws" are being introduced at lightning speed, and World Economic Forum (WEF) employees write them.

He added that the bylaws' purpose are to curtail freedoms and monitor citizens' movements, requiring a permit and permission for every move.

Sheldon would go on to refer to the United Nations Agenda 2030 on world sustainability.

"This is the implementation of it," he said.

The event's feature speaker was Careyleigh Thiessen from the Voice of Thorhild County, who said they formed the group because of residents' concerns about what their municipality was planning to include in its land-use bylaw.

"Land-use bylaws are really restrictive and are designed to strangle us," she said.

Although she said she did not have a chance to look through the County of Barrhead's draft land-use bylaw as thoroughly as she would have liked, she noted there were a few sections or clauses that raised red flags with her, one being in Section 9 regarding living in temporary dwellings such as sheds or garages that residents may live in while their main residence is built.

"According to the bylaw, it has to meet the same requirements as a primary residence," Thiessen said. "Including curb appeal, so it has to be sided, and it has to meet the square footage requirements."

Other areas of concern she pointed to were signs, the number of animals allowed on a property and the number of children allowed in a day-home operation.

Of the questions or concerns about the bylaw itself, one attendee said she was concerned about the vague definitions used in the bylaw, specifically pointing to the definition of a school: "means any building or part thereof which is designed, constructed or used for public education or instruction in any branch of knowledge."

Another attendee was concerned about the potential number of sea cans on a property, saying they recently applied for and received a permit for a sea can to be used as part of their butchering business, noting if they are no longer able to use the structure, it would greatly impact their livelihood.

Following the speakers, questions were invited from the floor, with, again, much of the discussion being initiated by those outside the County of Barrhead on topics other than the land-use bylaw.

The County of Barrhead has been in the process of reviewing its LUB for more than a year. The last time the county reviewed the document was 2010. As part of the process, the county hosted multiple public open houses.

County residents were also encouraged to fill out a survey, with both online and hard copies available, about what they wanted to see, change, or remain the same in the land-use bylaw.

The county informed the public about the open houses or information sessions, the survey and other public engagement opportunities through newspaper advertising, the municipality's website and Facebook page and the Barrhead and Area Regional Crime Coalition alert/information system.

The document, as previously stated, is currently still in the draft stage.

As part of the procedure, when the bylaw successfully passes first and/or second reading, council will set a date for another public hearing going through all the previously mentioned advertising steps.

People can find the draft bylaw and other relevant documents on the County of Barrhead's website at

[email protected]


Barry Kerton

About the Author: Barry Kerton

Barry Kerton is the managing editor of the Barrhead Leader, joining the paper in 2014. He covers news, municipal politics and sports.
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