Why Change Is Needed
Rocky View County Council's track record had been mixed, at best, over the 10-15 years leading up to the 2017 election. innumerable sub-optimal decisions were made on many issues. At times, these decisions were made against their own Administration's recommendations.
We hoped that the Council elected in the fall of 2017, with its eight fresh faces, would be more transparent and accountable than past councils. Unfortunately, after a promising start, the majority have demonstrated repeatedly that they want to turn Rocky View into the last bastion of the wild west - a place with no rules and no respect for policy, procedures, or the rights of individuals.
So just why is change needed?
Disregard for Rules and Process
The current council has failed to follow established rules and processes on many important issues. Rules and processes are important because they provide the assurance that decisions are being made appropriately – that council has considered relevant factors before making its decisions. Recent decisions where council ignored proper process include:
Hiring the new CAO without following best-practice guidelines established by Municipal Affairs
Overriding procurement policy to award sole-source internet servicing contract to consultant championed by one councillor
Violating basic guidelines in the MGA in repealing the Firearms Bylaw
Quashing the Aggregate Resource Plan despite it being a requirement of the current County plan
Not listening to residents
As well as ignoring rules and process, the current Council is quickly developing even a worse track record than its predecessors in terms of not placing any value on residents' interests and/or concerns. Recent examples of this distain for residents include:
The treatment of the Stop the Stench group from Divisions 6 & 7. They have been fighting a longstanding unlicenced, and extremely smelly compost facility operating adjacent to Thorlakson's feed lot.
Cancelling the Aggregate Resource Plan without even attempting to find a resolution for the long-promised County-wide gravel policy. This after the public consultations generated more public input than any other policy in the County's history.
The "open for business" attitude means that Councils have been far too willing to accept the assertions of developers at face value.
Councils, both past and current, frequently approved development applications without exercising adequate due diligence to confirm the viability or accuracy of developer's claims. Consultation with affected residents was often inadequate. Concerns and even vehement opposition from local residents have frequently been ignored or dismissed.
Rocky View took on significant debt to build what is still an underutilized water and waste water infrastructure network in East Rocky View. The Council of the day assured residents that commercial development attracted by this infrastructure would easily pay down the debt. This has not happened - we still owe over $53 million in external long term debt, plus an additional $35-$40 million that has been taken out of the Tax Stabilization Reserve and/or paid directly out of county tax revenues with promises that developers will pay it back through off-site levies. Worse, it has been established that if all the promised upgrades go ahead this debt could reach $200 million
The new Council had signaled that it planned to be more fiscally responsible. However, the recent allocation of $9.6 million, with funding solely from the Tax Stabilization Reserve, for a pipe to service West Balzac (with no cost recovery plan) suggests to the contrary. Other comments from Council indicate that they are poised to approve additional substantial infrastructure upgrades, ones that would dramatically increase County debt.