Update on October Council Meetings
Council held three meetings in October – regular council meetings on October 6th and 27th and its annual organizational meeting on October 27th.
New Reeve & Deputy Reeve
The big news coming out of the organizational meeting is that Rocky View has a new Reeve and Deputy Reeve. Dan Henn was elected as Reeve and Kim McKylor as Deputy Reeve for the next year. It will be interesting to see what impact, if any, these changes have on Council.
New Electoral Boundaries
The biggest other news from these meetings is that Council approved new electoral boundaries. As a result, for the next municipal election in 2021, the County will have seven divisions, down from the current nine divisions. While the electoral boundaries may not be the ones we would have chosen, the consultants appear to have rational logic behind their recommendations.
With the exception of Langdon, the new electoral divisions all radiate out from Calgary giving each division a mix of higher density country residential and lower density rural areas. The new electoral boundaries move all the divisions back into the +/- 25% deviation from the average that the Supreme Court ruled was necessary to ensure effective representation. Based on the consultants’ population projections, these divisional boundaries should be able to maintain that balance for at least the next three municipal election cycles.
Since resident feedback clearly indicated a preference for nine over seven divisions, we would have preferred to see the consultants’ nine-division options as promised. Council had committed, in the terms of reference, to have three options presented at a public council meeting. Unfortunately, Administration did not ensure that this happened. From what the consultant said, it is clear that these options were presented to Council at a workshop and that the consultant was directed to go back and prepare the seven-division option, which is the one they then recommended.
The new electoral divisions will be a learning curve for many of us. You can get more information here.
Other Newsworthy Decisions
Draft Municipal Development Plan – As we indicated in our last email, Council gave first reading to the new Municipal Development Plan on October 6th and have since indicated that its public hearing will be on Tuesday, December 8th. You can access it here.
Lehigh Hanson Gravel Pit Application – On October 6th, Council also gave first reading to the application from Lehigh Hanson for its third attempt to redesignate land adjacent to many country residential communities in Bearspaw into a 600-acre open pit gravel mine. You can access the accompanying Master Site Development Plan here and additional information, including the background technical studies, here.
Expansion of East Balzac ASP & Rejection of Opportunity for Relevant Information – At its October 27th meeting, council approved the terms of reference for an expansion of the East Balzac Area Structure Plan. This work will be directed by and paid for by the developer who owns the 465 acres that are the focus of the expansion. This could be described as buying your way into an ASP.
The most noteworthy aspect of this decision was what the majority did not approve. Councillor Wright made a motion arising requesting that Administration prepare information on how much land is still available for development in existing Area Structure Plans, broken down between residential, commercial and industrial and information on the historic build out rates in each of the ASPs. Wright’s motion was defeated in a 5:4 vote with support from Councillors Kamachi, Hanson, and Kissel. In our opinion, this is especially troubling given that CAO Hoggan appeared to be quite supportive of having staff provide this information to Council.
We continually find it incomprehensible that Council forges ahead proposing new Area Structure Plans and adding new growth areas to the draft Municipal Development Plan without having this information. How can anyone decide if and where new development areas are needed without knowing what is already available?
It speaks volumes that the Council majority rejected getting information to answer this question. They appear content to make substantial land use planning decisions despite a complete lack of information or understanding of Rocky View’s existing land use inventory and availability. What possible reason do they have for preferring to make decisions in the dark?
Sale of Cochrane Ag Lands – Council gave final approval to the sale of the land at the NW corner of Hwys 1A and 22 to the Cochrane & District Agricultural Society. This brings to an end the long-running uncertainty over the future of this land that began back in early 2016 when the previous council attempted to sell the land to a developer – a decision that could have left the Ag Society without a home. As a refresher, in September 2019 council approved a motion to sell the land to the Cochrane & District Ag Society for $1 with provisions to maintain the land for recreational uses for at least twenty years. We assume that the terms of the sale reflect this motion.