New Municipal Development Plan Receives Second Reading
On March 9th, after some questionable procedural decisions, Council gave the new Municipal Development Plan (MDP) second reading and referred it to the Calgary Metropolitan Region Board (CMRB) for its review and approval.
The MDP public hearing was held on Feb. 16th and then tabled until March 2nd to finish Council’s deliberations. Then at their March 2nd meeting, Council rescheduled the MDP amendments until March 8th. The only MDP-related decision on March 2nd was to refuse to accept letters from the City of Calgary and Alberta Parks – the Council majority portrayed these as “late submissions” and, therefore, not letters Council needed to consider.
On March 8th, Council worked through 37 amendments from councillors before tabling it until April 27th for “further collaboration with adjacent municipalities and First Nations”. The tabling motion passed in a 5 / 4 vote. Reeve Henn and Councillors Kamachi, Hanson, Wright and Kissel supported the tabling motion; while Deputy Reeve McKylor and Councillors Schule, Gautreau, and Boehlke were opposed. The fact that tabling had not been anticipated was graphically demonstrated by Schule’s expletive remarks after the vote.
In a bizarre twist of events, at the next morning’s Council meeting Boehlke asked to have the agenda amended to add an emergent motion to reconsider the motion to table the MDP and to complete the MDP amendments as part of that day’s meeting. After some procedural confusion, Administration advised Council that this required the suspension of relevant sections of the Procedure Bylaw. Thanks to Kamachi changing his vote from the day before, there was a 5 / 4 majority to suspend sections of the Procedure Bylaw. This then allowed them to rescind the previous day’s tabling motion and add the remaining MDP amendments to the March 9th council agenda.
Kamachi’s explanation for changing his position was that he hadn’t really understood the tabling motion the day before. In our opinion, the motion was crystal clear. It seems obvious that, in that intervening period, there must have been discussions between Kamachi and some of those who had opposed the tabling motion. Otherwise, why did Boehlke and not Kamachi bring forward the motions?
Boehlke’s “reason” for the urgency of his motions was that, if Council postponed finishing the MDP until late April, the entire process might drag on until after the October municipal election. He implied that this would be a negative outcome that should be avoided. It’s not clear what would be so wrong with that possibility.
Boehlke also emphasized that it wasn’t Rocky View’s responsibility to deal with last-minute submissions from anyone. However, as Hanson pointed out, that statement ignored the fact that Calgary had responded within the original time constraints. Their comments were so complex and critical that Administration had continued working with Calgary to try to provide amendments that might address Calgary’s concerns with the MDP. As Administration pointed out, their hope was to increase the chances for the MDP to succeed at the CMRB.
Changes to the MDP
A few substantive amendments to the MDP were approved including:
· McKylor’s amendments to designate the entire corridor along the Trans-Canada west from Calgary to Hwy 22 for future commercial/industrial uses.
· Boehlke’s amendments to remove explicit identification of ecological features as possible impediments to future development.
Hanson, Wright, and Kissel made various amendments to put some teeth into the MDP by reinstating the “shall” clauses that had been loosened to “should” clauses in the final draft. These amendments all failed, usually in 6 / 3 votes. As Wright pointed out, it was difficult to understand why Council was afraid to require that its rules actually be followed. Kissel described the unwillingness to reinstate “shall” clauses as making the MDP far too “loosey-goosey”.
Wright also attempted to restore the County Plan’s provisions dealing with master site development plans both generally and for aggregate resource extraction operations. In earlier discussions, Administration acknowledged that these had been left out by accident. Despite that, the majority refused to correct Administration’s oversight.
Rocky View is now sending the CMRB a Municipal Development Plan that, from residents’ perspective, is even worse than the previous draft, with such loose guidance that its effectiveness is questionable. As both Hanson & Wright pointed out, the optics of how Council dealt with the MDP amendments sends a negative message to our regional neighbours. They emphasized that consultations aren’t just a box-ticking exercise and, if Council actually wanted the MDP to have the best chance for approval at the CMRB, it was foolhardy not to improve those chances with some additional intermunicipal discussions.
Hanson further noted that the consultants had advised Council that this version of the MDP had little chance of success at the CMRB. This makes one wonder if the majority deliberately created a document that they expect to be rejected by the CMRB so they can then “cry foul” to the province in their ongoing efforts to kill the CMRB. Only time will tell.