RVC recommends Province cut CRP funding
Monday, Mar 16, 2015 03:03 pm
A recommendation from Rocky View County (RVC) for the Province to cut funding to the Calgary Regional Partnership (CRP) has been submitted to Minster of Municipal Affairs Diana McQueen following the CRP’s move to be provincially legislated as a planning body.
According to Grant Kaiser, manager of communications services with RVC, the CRP was initially formed to develop the Calgary Metropolitan Plan (CMP), a regional servicing plan that outlines how municipalities might work together to share transit, water, wastewater, etc.
“It’s important to note that the CMP is not a planning document on par with the County Plan or other municipal development plans in neighboring communities,” he said. “The CMP is only a servicing plan.”
The CRP is comprised of 12 municipalities within RVC and the surrounding area. According to Mayor of Okotoks Bill Robertson, chair of the CRP, the local rural municipalities are currently not a part of the CRP – although he said they have an open invitation. According to Kaiser, the CRP “simply didn’t work” for RVC.
“Under the CRP’s rules, municipalities representing 50 per cent plus one of the population must approve decisions,” he said. “Since Calgary has 88 per cent of the population, they essentially get a veto – nothing passes without them.”
Since RVC has a democratically-elected council to represent residents, he said the County couldn’t allow another municipality the authority to have a veto over decisions that impact RVC. However, he said RVC does continue to work with the ideas and principals of the CMP.
“The fact that RVC didn’t join the CRP doesn’t mean we don’t agree with, or participate in, regional planning,” he said. “With 15 neighboring municipalities that we either touch or surround, the County has a long and proud history of leading and participating in regional initiatives.”
According to Kaiser, a meeting with McQueen in late January offered the opportunity for municipal officials to respond to a “demand” from the City of Calgary and the CRP that the CMP be legislated and overseen by the CRP.
“We would like the plan legislated, though, so that everybody plays by the same rules,” said Robertson. “That’s probably where RVC disagrees because under the CMP, they would be required to adhere to certain rules that perhaps they are not enforced to adhere to at this time.”
RVC council’s Reeve Margaret Bahcheli’s letter to Minister McQueen explained the proposed legislation was “unwarranted” and that the same goal could be achieved through “common sense” and “good-neighbor efforts.” The letter in its entirety can be viewed on the County’s website at rockyview.ca.
“The County believes the organization was attempting to solidify its existence – and significant provincial funding – in the face of increasing questions from some MLAs and municipalities about its value and purpose,” Kaiser said. “It was created to develop the CMP – now that the plan exists, municipalities can simply work together on it, without the CRP as a middle-man.”
Currently, the Province invests more than $3 million each year in the organization – money which, according to Kaiser, could have been used to fund “real, impactful regional projects.” He said, considering Alberta’s current budget issues, RVC was prompted to propose the Province withdraw the CRP’s funding.
“It’s a little disappointing that RVC would propose to kill the funding, because of course, we’d like them to be in the partnership,” Robertson said. “So not only are they saying they don’t want to join the club, but they’re saying they want to disband the club entirely.”
RVC is still waiting to hear back from Minister McQueen regarding the proposed legislation, but Kaiser said CRP has since withdrawn their request.
“After stirring all this up, the CRP sent a letter to the Minister saying they liked the status quo after all,” he said. “We don’t know how she’ll react now that those who proposed all this work for her department have now backed out.”