The County held an open house on proposed targeted amendments to the County Plan on Wednesday, April 17th. A public hearing for the amendments will be held in June 2019. Rocky View Forward’s submission on these amendments can be found here.
The amendments deal with two of the three motions made by Deputy Reeve Schule at the March 12th Council meeting:
· Removing the population ceiling for hamlets; and
· Permitting business development outside of approved business areas.
It appears that Admin decided that it is not necessary to amend the County Plan to change the “dot” for Langdon’s business area on the County Plan maps from a local business area to a regional business area.
From our perspective, neither of these amendments are appropriate. There is also no apparent justification to bring them forward in advance of the complete review of the County’s municipal development plan that Council has also set in motion.
The hamlet population target is part of the County Plan’s overall objective to support moderate growth. Removing the population target weakens that objective. As a result, it prejudges the upcoming public engagement on the entire municipal development plan. Unless that process supports doing away with the moderate growth objective, removing the hamlet population targets make no sense.
From a practical perspective, there is also no need to remove the population target since none of Rocky View’s hamlets are anywhere close to the population targets. This raises the question of why bother?
The County Plan supports business development in identified areas within Area Structure Plans. This restriction is to provide for orderly growth – focusing new business development in identified areas rather than permitting it in random locations. It also assists the County in providing transportation and other infrastructure in a more economically efficient manner. There is still substantial undeveloped land within the County Plan’s identified business areas. Again, this raises the question of why bother?
In this case, there is an answer – land is cheaper outside of approved ASPs. Not surprisingly, many businesses prefer cheaper land. Is it really in the County’s best interest to accommodate those preferences by permitting development outside of the ASPs? Randomly located development costs the County far more to service. It is also very prejudicial to existing landowners within the ASP areas.