Division 5 - Conrich - Delacour - Dalroy
Conrich Area Structure Plan
The Conrich ASP, originally approved by RV Council in December 2015, can be implemented now that it has made it through appeals from both Chestermere and Calgary. Chestermere's appeal was dismissed; however, Calgary’s appeal was found to be justified and was resolved through a mediated settlement that addressed Calgary’s concerns with respect to impacts on its road infrastructure and storm water control prior to finalization of a regional storm water management system to deal with the area’s chronic flooding issues. This settlement will significantly increase development costs in the ASP area relative to what otherwise would have been expected.
The Conrich ASP covers almost 11,000 acres in east Rocky View. It encompasses the hamlet of Conrich, a number of existing country residential communities and the CN Logistics Park. The ASP supports the development of the Conrich area as a regional commercial and industrial centre, with only limited future residential growth.
For a link to the Conrich ASP, click here.
OMNI Area Structure Plan
Rocky View released the draft Omni ASP on June 12th. This is a developer-paid ASP, funded by Genesis Land Development Corp., one of the landowners in the ASP area. An open house for the draft ASP is scheduled for June 28th and the ASP is expected to come back to Council this summer or fall.
The County Plan identified this area as a potential highway business development area. It covers 1,280 acres in Division 5, just north of the Conrich ASP. Administration recommended against going ahead with the ASP because there is not servicing capacity for the anticipated development. The majority on Council approved the ASP’s terms of reference in late 2016.
The ASP is proposing a mix of commercial and light industrial development, with no residential development. It assumes the development will use the East Rocky View water / waste water infrastructure and will link into a regional storm water management system, once it is agreed-upon and built.
According to the County’s website, feedback from area residents, prior to drafting the ASP, was uniformly negative and unsupportive of the ASP’s concepts. Many people also complained about the poorly advertised open house consultations.
The ASP estimates that the cost ot upgrade the water/waste water infrastructure to service Omni will be $183.7 million, $166.8 million of which is assumed to be paid through off-site levies. This almost certainly underestimates the actual cost. Although there is excess capacity in the system right now, most of that has already been committed to other developments that have been approved, but not yet built. Omni’s cost estimates ignore the fact that capacity legally committed to one developer cannot be used by another.
Storm water management is a significant issue for this area because it has historically been prone to flooding. The ASP assumes that, in the long run, its storm water management will link into a regional system through the Conrich ASP at a cost of $31.6 million. This is despite the fact that regional storm water planning does not appear to have included Omni.
The ASP provides no costing on interim storm water solutions, but assumes significant on-site reuse of storm water – irrigation and non-potable water uses such as toilet flushing. This approach reduces storm water runoff by converting some of it into waste water volumes.
East Rocky View Waste Water Facility
Over a decade ago, the County implemented a so-called "made-in-Rocky View" strategy that consisted in fronting the costs of building urban water and sewage infrastructure to service intensive commercial and industrial uses in the Balzac east area.
The declared purpose was to create more non-residential tax revenue - the real effect was huge expenses that 10 years later, according to the County's audited financial statments, remain in the form of a $58-million long-term debt. An amount that was recently exposed by Rocky View Forward to be inaccurate as it omits an additional $30-million, about half of which is money belonging to tax payers and the other half owed to developers.
The plan started on the wrong foot when the County approved large proposals without having previously secured a water source. This made headlines across the country and forced County officials to purchase, at an unprecedented cost of $15-million of taxpayer money, a water licence from the Western Irrigation District. County officials stated that all the money borrowed to build the infrastructure would be repaid by user fees and special purpose levies.
Projections presented to Council in 2005 anticipated $40 million in developers’ levies would be flowing to County coffers in five years. However, in spite of approving several large commercial developments such as the CrossIron Mills mall and other retail centres, wastewater levies collected from 2006 to 2012 averaged $1.5 million per year, barely covering the debt interests and forcing the County to skip annual payments.
The levies came short of covering the annual debt service, prompting the use of $3 million of taxpayers’ money in 2012.
It later became clear that the wastewater levies in place were simply too low. In addition, the levies were not reviewed in 2011 and 2012, in spite of a commitment to perform annual reviews. After levies were finally overhauled in 2013, the New Horizon mall being constructed in Balzac was to pay $4 million in levies for wastewater services. However, an amendment introduced by area Coun. Lois Habberfield reduced the payment by almost two-thirds, to $1.5 million. The County is also subsidizing the operations of the wastewater services.
To allow for increased servicing when the facility reaches capacity, more funds will be required to upgrade the system. It was recently discussed by Council that this expansion may need to occur as soon as the OMNI ASP is approved.