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Council Update & Public Engagement Opportunities

There have been 5 council meetings since our last update. Not that much newsworthy happened at those meetings, so we held off sending out another email. At this point, there are some items to highlight. These include:

  • The County is asking for input on its Citizen Satisfaction Survey by April 17th

  • An in-person open house has been added on April 28th for the Springbank ASP public engagement

  • The County’s new Chief Administrative Officer, Dorian Wandzura, will be starting as of May 2nd

  • The county has withdrawn its appeal of the sanctions case launched by the previous council

  • Council has re-established a committee of the whole to hear presentations from the public (Public Presentation Committee – PPC)

  • Interestingly given how uneventful the last few council meetings have been, council decided to add an additional meeting in May to “deal with the backlog”

Citizen Satisfaction Survey – responses due by April 17th

The County has hired an outside consultant to conduct a “citizen satisfaction survey”. Surveys must be completed by April 17th. All households are supposed to have received a unique pin code. If you, like many residents, have not yet received the necessary code, we encourage you to call the County (403-230-1401) to get one. You can access the survey here.

Having just completed the survey, there are some relevant comments for those who have not yet done so.

  • Many questions are vague and different people might provide exactly the same answer for completely different reasons.

    • For example, if you are “dissatisfied” with county-provided utilities is it because you are concerned about the drain they impose on our tax dollars or because you’d like to be connected to those services and aren’t?

  • Many questions ask for categorical judgements when an accurate answer requires more complex input

    • For example, do you think county staff are “courteous and helpful”? What if you think they are courteous, but not helpful? That isn’t an available choice.

  • There is no “back” button so there is no way to review your input as you complete the survey – don’t assume you can clarify an answer later.

  • There is no opportunity for input on issues not explicitly included in the survey – no space for general comments at the end.

These concerns raise issues with the survey design. However, it is still dramatically better than nothing and, as a result, well worth completing. If people don’t engage, there is a risk that the County will stop trying to reach out for our input.

Springbank ASP – in-person open house: April 28th; deadline for surveys and submissions: May 13th

The deadline for completing the on-line survey and providing written comments has been extended to Friday, May 13th. You can access the survey here.

An in-person, workshop-style open house has been added on Thursday, April 28th at the Springbank Heritage Club. There will be three one-hour sessions and the County is asking people to register for one of the three time slots (5:15; 6:30; or 7:45 pm) – details can be found here.

If you haven’t already attended a coffee chat session, there is still time to register. They will be held weekdays through April 14th – registration details are here. In advance of the coffee chats, the county sends out discussion questions which include:

  • Whether you prefer one or two ASPs

  • What your top priorities are for Springbank

  • Your thoughts on the following

    • Community core

    • Where commercial development should go

    • Future development south of Harmony

    • Area along the border with Calgary

    • Interim uses

Our March 23rd email highlighted many of the issues relevant for the Springbank ASP, so we aren’t repeating those here. However, we want to flag that Administration’s coffee chat questions do not include the importance of adequate servicing for whatever future development is in the revised land use strategy. We hope this is because environmentally sustainable servicing will be a “given” in the revised ASP. To be on the safe side, you may want to emphasize the importance of proper servicing in your input to the County.

New Chief Administrative Officer – Dorian Wandzura – Starts May 2nd

At its March 22nd meeting, council appointed their new CAO – Dorian Wandzura. He will be heading up Rocky View’s Administration as of May 2nd. With any luck, he will be a vast improvement over the County’s previous CAO. He certainly seems well-qualified and the fact that his appointment was supported unanimously indicates that the process was dramatically better than in 2018. From what he said in his interview in Rocky View Weekly Mr. Wandzura sounds promising.

County’s Appeal of the Judicial Decision to Throw Out the Sanctions Withdrawn

The County has finally withdrawn its appeal of the sanctions decision. Beyond that fact, there is no information available, most likely because there is a non-disclosure agreement. We can only hope that the resolution of this long-drawn-out fiasco has treated Councillors Hanson, Kissel, and Wright fairly.

Public Presentations Committee (PPC) – First Meeting: June 29, 2022

Council has re-established a committee for all of council to hear presentations from residents, volunteer groups active in the community, and other stakeholder groups with the objective of providing councillors with information to help them understand the needs and concerns of Rocky View communities.

Rocky View had a series of committees that served this purpose since the early 2000s until the previous council abolished the Governance and Priorities Committee in February 2020. Although the PPC, like its predecessors, has no decision-making power, it should provide a useful venue for groups to provide updates to councillors.

Additional Council Meeting Added for May 17th

As we noted at the beginning of this email, the last few council meetings have been relatively uneventful. They have also not been overly long – averaging about 5 hours of business form start to finish. A “full” council agenda typically includes four public hearings. In comparison, since the October election council agendas have averaged between 2 - 3 public hearings per meeting.

Despite this light workload, at the April 5th council meeting, Councillor Schule brought forward a motion arising to hold a special council meeting on May 17th to “deal with the backlog” of applications. Administration identified three larger applications which deal with amendments to the South Conrich Concept Scheme, the Cottage Club DC bylaw, and the Bridges of Langdon Concept Scheme, as applications that could be rescheduled to a May 17th meeting. According to Administration, these public hearings were already tentatively scheduled for May 31st and June 14th.

Schule made it clear that he was interested in having the Bridges of Langdon public hearing moved forward, even if only by two weeks, because “the construction season is short”. In response to questions from Councillors Hanson, Samra, and Wright, Administration did not present evidence of the “backlog” that Schule and Councillor Boehlke insisted needed to be addressed. Instead, staff noted that all applications were being scheduled for public hearings within the targeted turn-around times (9 – 10 months) and that there were others ready in the queue and this would move these applications out of sequence. Interestingly, staff also noted that Bridges of Langdon had only been in the queue for 4 months. Is this evidence of “squeaky wheels” getting preferential treatment? We certainly hope not since that is something we had anticipated was left behind after the October election.

Schule and Boehlke got support for scheduling the extra meeting from Mayor Kochan and Hanson. Councillors Samra and Wright were opposed (Deputy Mayor Kissel was absent). Hanson stated that he changed his mind because the motion left Administration with discretion to decide which applications to include for the May 17th meeting and that he was counting on them to deal with all applications fairly. He also stated that council should not be picking winners and losers in the scheduling of public hearings. Time will tell whether his expectations are realized.

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