Local municipal officials in the RPGA Planning District have voiced their concerns over changes to Manitoba's Bill-48.

The Pallister government wants to make sweeping changes to the way land-use decisions are made in Manitoba municipalities. Currently, municipal councils have authority in granting or denying building permits, variation orders, and development plans. However, Bill 48 would allow property owners to appeal municipal council decisions to an un-elected municipal board established by the province.

A lot of Municipal governments don't like the idea because the process for challenging these decisions is costly and it turns the final decision over to a Municipal Board that is not accountable to the citizens of the impacted community.

Altona Mayor Al Friesen says it creates another regulatory body that would circumvent what Altona and Rhineland Municipality are successfully doing through their own organization, the RPGA Planning District.

"Which we think runs well, we're happy with the process and we think it has the respect of developers and those who come to the table with ideas."

Friesen feels planning decisions should be made by people who live in their local communities and have a greater understanding and insight of what the needs of the region are.

Friesen feels creating another body that municipalities have to answer to would likely slow down the development process.

"We just feel the changes would get in the way of the government's mandate for less red tape."

The reeve for Rhineland Municipality has the same concerns. Don Wiebe says the province would be introducing another level to the process in which decisions made by the RPGA Planning District could be appealed to the municipal board.

"Right now they can't. So this removes the local autonomy for our region. We're think we're in the best position to know what's best for our region with respect to social and economic development."

Wiebe feels they have a local planning process that is efficient, transparent, citizen focused and works well with the province's planning department. He says there's no need to change that.

Officials from both communities have expressed their concerns to the Association of Manitoba Municipalities.