CMRB Rejects North & South Springbank ASPs and Municipal Development Plan
At its July 23rd meeting, the CMRB rejected the new ASPs for North and South Springbank and the revised Municipal Development Plan. Challenges to each of these plans were submitted by Airdrie, Calgary, Cochrane, and Okotoks.
Under the Interim Growth Plan, there is no appeal process. The province could extend the appeal mechanisms for the Regional Growth Plan to decisions made under the Interim Growth Plan. However, unless that happens, these plans are “dead in the water” and the existing Springbank ASPs and the County Plan will continue as RVC’s relevant statutory documents.
Rocky View emphasized that CRMB staff and its third-party reviewer both recommended approving the plans as consistent with the Interim Growth Plan. However, it should be noted that, at the July 23rd meeting, CMRB staff pointed out that when they review plans they must do so based on policies within the Interim Growth Plan and that the Interim Growth Plan has a distinct lack of specific policy criteria. They also emphasized that they are not free to apply any additional criteria.
The major concerns raised by other municipalities will be familiar to many RVC residents:
Misalignment with the CMRB’s regional planning principles and objectives
Deferral of far too much critical detail to the local plan stage
No clear phasing strategy to ensure efficient development and to minimize fragmentation of agricultural land
Lack of a framework for the provision of community services and facilities or for mitigation of impacts on services provided by neighbouring municipalities
Little to no integration of land use and infrastructure planning
Absence of servicing for much of the area
Insufficient protection of source water quality
Many of the objecting municipalities also pointed out that CMRB staff’s focus on specific Interim Growth Plan policies rather than on IGP principles meant that they evaluated the plans from an inappropriate perspective. They argued that since these plans are regionally significant, they need to be assessed from a regional perspective, not in isolation.
Mayor Nenshi emphasized that, contrary to RVC’s messaging, it is not true that Calgary will reject anything RVC brings forward. They would like to work collaboratively with RVC, but they have no idea what the County’s priorities are. As Nenshi pointed out, Rocky View’s plans, in aggregate, propose a fivefold increase in the County’s population and that it should be clear to everyone that all that development will not be built. If RVC wants collaboration from Calgary and its other municipal neighbours, they need some sense of RVC’s priorities. Nenshi went so far as to say that he had heard from developers who felt that Rocky View’s council was not willing to make amendments to ensure success at the CMRB. He concluded by saying that the entire exercise had been an enormous waste of people’s time and money.
RVC’s major defence against these criticisms was that the proposed plans are “better” than the existing outdated versions. Henn also repeatedly stated that RVC was unfairly targeted by the CMRB’s urban members – that the Board talks about celebrating urban/rural differences but then applies urban standards to rural development and vetoes RVC plans.
We can’t help but notice the irony in the reality that the concerns raised by the CMRB members were also emphasized by Rocky View ratepayers at the public hearings for each of these rejected plans. This raises the question of who the council majority is actually representing.
The irony extends beyond this. RVC argued that since CMRB administration recommended approval, the Board should follow that advice. By not doing so, according to RVC, the member municipalities were ignoring relevant policy for political reasons. Anyone who has paid attention to Rocky View’s council majority will have seen them repeatedly ignore Administration’s recommendations and make decisions that clearly contradict policy. It seems that it’s okay for them to do that when it's county residents who are being victimized – but it’s not okay when it’s them on the losing end of things. The election really cannot come soon enough.