Public hearing set for Glenbow Ranch ASP
Tuesday, Apr 18, 2017 06:00 am
Rocky View County (RVC) council will consider the adoption of the Glenbow Ranch Area Structure Plan (GBRASP) at a public hearing April 25 – and despite two years of development and public consultation, residents still have questions.
“Leaving it all agricultural would be the best thing you could do,” said Janet Ballantyne, a resident of RVC who helped spearhead Rocky View Forward. “I’m very concerned that if it was not a developer-paid Area Structure Plan (ASP), it would never have gone ahead.”
Since the current Bearspaw ASP, which includes the land within the GBRASP, was adopted in 1994, RVC planner Amy Zaluski said the county identified the need to update the document – but can only undertake two ASP projects annually.
“(ASPs) take a lot of internal resources, so this model is something we adapted from the City of Calgary,” she said. “The developer pays so we can hire a consultant or fill positions to increase our resources – but that doesn’t guarantee an outcome in council.”
The County Plan contains detailed policy to guide the process of reviewing and amending existing ASPs. When Glenbow Ranch Provincial Park was introduced in 2008, Zaluski said, it became clear this portion of the Bearspaw ASP would need to be developed differently than the remainder of the plan area.
“Maybe it should be a separate area, but that should be determined as part of the bigger picture,” Ballantyne said. “It should be pulled out because it makes policy sense, not because there’s a private interest involved.”
One of the policies included in Section 10 of the County Plan allows administration to consider reducing plan boundaries, or even removing a portion of the plan to develop a separate ASP. According to Zaluski, this process does require planning staff to address the section’s “connection to the larger plan area.”
“We did consider that throughout the preparation of the GBRASP,” she said, “but it made policy sense to pull it out for a number of reasons. It’s a distinct area – the highway separates it from the north area, and the park is a feature that requires a different type of planning.”
Ballantyne also argued there is “no evidence” of the development pressure the County said precipitated the development of the GBRASP. However, according to Zaluski, the increasing frequency of applications that didn’t meet the guidelines of the Bearspaw ASP indicated a need to revisit the outdated document.
“There is a definite desire to see different styles or forms of development than what is traditionally allowed for in the ASP,” she said, naming communities like Watermark and Silverhorn as examples.
Other concerns Ballantyne raised involved more specific issues, like stormwater and traffic impacts – important issues which Zaluski said will be addressed in detail through subsequent planning stages. The purpose of the GBRASP, she said, is to show that future development is feasible.
As far as traffic is concerned, the GBRASP will require the installation of additional traffic controls along Highway 1A – but Zaluski said some of this would be necessary even if no future development occurred in the area due to the increase in population in Cochrane and Calgary and the regional traffic.
According to Ballantyne, the plan “opens the door” for landowners to opt out of the Transfer of Development Credits program – a new tool offered by Alberta Land Stewardship that concentrates development in certain areas while conserving environmentally sensitive lands.
“If they’re going to develop (the land), (the plan) or at least parts of (the plan) would make more sense than just random 4-acre parcels,” Ballantyne said.
Landowners would still have the option to submit an application to subdivide their land into 3.95-acre parcels, Zaluski said, but planning documents would be required to show how the landowner will mitigate impacts on the park and surrounding conservation lands. The application would also be evaluated by council.