Winter 2020

Newsletter Archive


Sighting for Renewable Energy Development: A Rural Municipal Planning Tool

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When municipal governments consider industrial scale solar or wind energy development, it immediately becomes clear that not everywhere is suitable for those activities, and not everywhere is unsuitable. For some areas it is a clear-cut 'yes' or 'no', but most areas sit somewhere on a continuum between those two extremes.

To assist rural municipalities in balancing complex land use decisions, the Miistakis Institute in partnership with the Oldman River Regional Services Commission (ORRSC) developed the Municipal Land Use Suitability Tool (MLUST). MLUST enables consideration of new developments side by side with their traditional infrastructure, built environment, agri-business, natural and cultural assets. We recently completed a project with Municipal District of Pincher Creek to identify the most suitable lands for renewable energy development. MLUST includes two key components; a stakeholder engagement process where council and staff identify, value and score their municipality’s agri-business, natural and cultural assets; and a spatial modeling component to produce outputs to inform municipal planning and decision making. If your curious to see the best places for wind and solar check out the Executive Summary or the full report.

The following map shows the ecological conflict probability generated during the MLUST process whereby darker green areas represent higher value ecological areas.

MLUST was designed to be flexible and can be used to identify most suitable areas for other types of development. Our partnership is currently working with MD Crowsnest Pass to identify areas for industrial and residential development.