The County of Newell uses a matrix to both review existing documents and frame discussions to meet the intended goals of the regional plan

 With consideration for broad economic, environmental and social outcomes, the South Saskatchewan Regional Plan is far from a step-by-step guide to land use and planning. All desired outcomes are considered equal in the regional plan, which can be a challenge for municipalities as they prioritize the interests of the community.

A review matrix is a tool that eases the implementation of regional plans by creating a framework to review existing plans and documents. The County of Newell is using a matrix as a starting point for discussions to decide on the best approaches to meet the desired outcomes of the regional plan.

“You can utilize a matrix in discussions with your municipality,” said Diane Horvath, senior planner for the County of Newell with the Oldman River Regional Services Commission.

The matrix is a “jumping off point” to begin considering the various methods to meet the goals and outcomes outlined in regional plans. Without explicit priorities, regional plans consider all objectives as equally important. This can be a significant challenge for municipalities as they grapple with issues.

An example from the County of Newell – the South Saskatchewan Regional Plan encourages the development of renewables just as it protects agricultural land. If both are equal, should a solar farm be developed on productive crop land?

Using a matrix to frame discussions aids in objectively making decisions that meet the desired outcomes of a regional plan while considering the interests of the community.

The planning team for the County of Newell created the review matrix after the South Saskatchewan Regional Plan came into effect in 2014. They went through the entire regional plan and created a list of objectives from the plan that were considered to be most important for municipal planning. The matrix is used to review existing planning documents, but fortunately few revisions have been required to current plans.

“Based on good planning practices, the majority of their plans did meet the requirements of the South Saskatchewan Regional Plan,” said Horvath.

A matrix is a tool that streamlines the process to review existing documents. From the experiences in the County of Newell, a review matrix is also a useful tool to consider interests equally and then apply local interests to make the best decisions for the community.

 

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