Growth Management Boards ‘concerning’

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A Rocky View 2020 (RV2020) meeting on Jan. 27 gave area landowners the opportunity to find out more about the proposed Chestermere annexation – and the possibility of the implementation of Provincially-mandated growth management boards.

Rocky View County (RVC) Reeve Greg Boehlke and Deputy Reeve Earl Solberg gave a presentation and answered questions from concerned residents.

“Obviously by the turnout, people are very concerned about this annexation by Chestermere and what impact that might have on their land value,” said RV2020 member Guy Buchanan.

“It’s my belief that the City of Calgary is actually behind this Chestermere annexation – that they are trying to position RVC as being unco-operative, when in fact (RVC has) been very co-operative.”

Boehlke’s presentation covered the history of RVC’s co-operation with its boundary neighbours – including the Cities of Calgary and Chestermere. However, Buchanan said Calgary has “never gotten over” former premier Ralph Klein’s elimination of the Calgary Regional Planning Commission in 1995.

“During the planning commission, Calgary had control over quite a large swath outside its boundary as to what development could or couldn’t occur in RVC,” Buchanan said.

“Since 1995 when they lost that control, we’ve seen lots of growth in Springbank and Bearspaw. We need those projects in this region.”

According to Boehlke, the County currently follows the Municipal Government Act, which he said gives RVC the same rights as any other municipality. However, depending on how a growth management board is enforced, Boehlke said RVC could be facing similar challenges that led to the County pulling out of the Calgary Regional Partnership (CRP) in 2009 – along with the rural counties of Foothills and Wheatland.

The structure of the voluntary CRP, which was established in 1999, maintains a population-based voting model that Boehlke said would give Calgary, which holds more than 80 per cent of the partnership population, a veto power. Boehlke said his concern is that a mandated growth management board would have a similar structure.

“I believe these boards, as much as they may be conceived as a good idea, the way they’re laid out gives too much opportunity for one entity, the City of Calgary, to say they don’t want something and RVC can’t do it,” Boehlke said.

“That’s the danger we see, of having one entity having power over another, is that your economic development could be significantly affected.”

However, Boehlke admitted the discussions surrounding growth management boards have been “vague” and, at this point, anything about the topic is “speculation.” While he said RVC, and other smaller municipalities like Airdrie and Cochrane, believe in the value of regional planning and co-operation, he doesn’t want the City of Calgary to “steal away their autonomy.”

“This should be a huge concern for every existing landowner and resident in RVC, and I believe in the other jurisdictions, too – anywhere within the Province of Alberta,” Buchanan said.

“(Calgary has) positioned themselves as being the only ones that have a sustainable plan, but it’s hogwash. What we need for the region to remain healthy and competitive on a national scale is to have local jurisdictions that compete between each other.

“If Calgary is allowed to dictate in all the outlying jurisdictions, we’re not serving southern Alberta well.”

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