Some of the most fertile farmland in the world is being paved over, Edmonton area residents told a provincial committee touring Alberta to ask about land use.

Edmonton was the fifth stop for the committee, which will spend the next two weeks travelling the province. Many of those at the Edmonton session Wednesday said they wereworried about urban sprawl.

Colin Reichle, a resident ofSt. Albert just outside Edmonton, said Alberta's cities are getting too big. He said he has watched subdivisions multiply and valuable agricultural land paved over.

"I think our municipalities are large enough that they should start looking at going up and not out," he said.

"Drive southwest out of Edmonton or drive southwest out of Calgary and see suburbia growing up all around with no consideration of the land that it now occupies and what was there before. That's just wrong."

Reichle said he hopes the province takes a hard line and reins in urban sprawl.

Sustainable Resources Minister Ted Morton is in charge of mapping out a draft land-use plan by the end of the year.

Mortonsaid there will be more rules around residential development once the plan is put together, butadded that there aremany other issues to consider: "How fast to develop oilsands in the north; the dispute between the city of Edmonton and surrounding counties over urban planning; the issue of balancing logging, recreation and conservation in the eastern slopes. All of these will be addressed, I think, and touched by the land-use framework."

Morton is planning to have a draft report on the topic completed by the end of the year.