Residents start petition opposing Springbank development
Dozens of area residents unhappy with Rocky View County’s decision to move ahead with a 537-dwelling development next to the Springbank Airport have started a petition.
County council voted to proceed with subdivision and development of the Harmony project, which could potentially house as many as 10,000 people, on July 3. According to staff, 21 letters of support and seven letters of opposition were received from the 188 area landowners to whom the subdivision application was circulated.
Noel Wallace, organizer of the “County of Rocky View, Government of Alberta: Stop Harmony Village Development in the West Springbank Farming District” petition, said many residents feel they were not properly consulted about the project.
“The process minimized any public opposition to this controversial and experimental project,” said Wallace. “Stakeholders felt they were not heard or were ignored and not counted as being opposed.”
Wallace said those opposed to Harmony were outraged to hear one letter of opposition was thrown out, as it made claims that Councillor Lois Habberfield had benefited financially from approving a previous development when she was reeve. According to County Reeve Rolly Ashdown, the letter was not counted because it came from outside the circulation area and was submitted after the deadline.
“There is a certain window of time in which letters are accepted and this letter wasn’t submitted at the appropriate time, it’s as simple as that,” said Ashdown.
He added the claim that Habberfield benefited financially from approving a development was simply untrue.
“It was a disparaging letter that suggested Councillor Habberfield had gained from something she hadn’t,” he said. “That type of letter shouldn’t be welcomed by Rocky View or any (municipality). Councillor Habberfield does good work for the County and has for quite some time.”
Wallace said the petition will ensure those opposed are heard.
“We are going to be very public and present this in such a way they cannot throw these names in the garbage,” he said.
At press time, the petition had been signed by 86 area residents, including farmers, acreage owners, airport employees and business owners. More than 60 people signed the petition within two days of its creation. Several people who signed the document have also included their comments.
“This represents the loss of yet another farming community,” said Cochrane resident Stacy Grisswell, one of the petition signers.
“This has to end. If you want to live in an urban centre, move into Calgary.”
Wallace said the overall theme of the comments is residents, “don’t want it and nobody is listening”.
Ashdown said the County provided several opportunities for public input prior to Harmony’s approval in 2008 and in the years since.
“Harmony went through all the appropriate public venues and was approved in 2008, all we’re doing now is approving each phase as it comes forward,” he said. “There has been ample opportunity for public input prior to this point. Rocky View seeks and considers all public opinion and always has.
“For someone to think we don’t listen to our residents is just not correct. This council seeks public opinion more than any council I have ever seen. We have had more Town Hall meetings than I’ve seen anywhere and I have personally been to more than 10.”
Ashdown said council is always available to listen to residents’ concerns.
“If anyone has an opinion they’d like to share with us, we’re more than willing to hear it,” he said.
The plan for Harmony consists of nine phases and will commence with the development of show homes and utility infrastructure as early as 2013.
For more information, visit www.rockyview.ca.
To learn more about the petition or to sign, go to www.change.org