Alberta Farmland Trust, Motion to expand East Balzac, Provincial grant money allocated
COUNCIL SUPPORTS WHEATLAND COUNTY RESOLUTION ON ALBERTA FARMLAND TRUST
Council unanimously supported Wheatland County’s request to second its motion asking the Rural Municipalities of Alberta (RMA) to advocate to the Province for policies and programs that support the creation of agricultural conservation easements such as the proposed “AgriGift” program. These programs are voluntary and the easements are tools for landowners who want to conserve their land for agricultural production.
The Alberta Farmland Trust is a relatively new land trust organization and is advocating for incentives to facilitate the preservation of agricultural lands. There is no denying that more and more agricultural land is being used for residential and commercial development. This is a positive step in ensuring that ag lands are protected.
MOTION TO EXPAND THE BALZAC EAST ASP APPROVED
Deputy Reeve Schule and Councillor Henn brought forward a motion to add 465 acres to the Balzac East Area Structure Plan. The motion claimed that the absorption rate in the ASP is 200-acres per year, leaving approximately 1,200 acres or 6 years of remaining supply.
However, the discussion around their motion provided conflicting assertions regarding how much of East Balzac is already built out, with numbers ranging from 30-70%. Without understanding which number was correct, or how much commercial and industrial land is available in the numerous other ASPs approved in the County, I found the motion premature.
I believe it is crucial to have a proper understanding of the inventory of land in already approved ASPs before we continue approving more simply because a landowner wants his lands included in an ASP. There should be a viable business case, otherwise we could simply be saturating an already over diluted market.
There was some heated debate which involved Councillor Hanson suggesting that the debt for the East Rocky View water and wastewater infrastructure should be paid back before expanding out on more growth. This prompted the Reeve and Deputy Reeve to jump in stating that the debt could be paid down in no time with the taxes this area generates. Their assertions ignore the difference between revenue sources to pay for operating and capital expenditures. When Hanson tried to point this out, the Reeve shut down all debate and called the question. The motion passed 8-1 with me in opposition.
MUNICIPAL STIMULUS PROGRAM PROVIDES ROCKY VIEW WITH $4.6M IN FUNDING
The Government of Alberta allocated $4,684,300 to Rocky View County through the Municipality Stimulus Program (MSP). Administration identified 5 projects for the funding:
1) $1M in lifecycle improvements to County pathways and trails – Langdon, Elbow Valley, Springbank
2) $800,000 for Bragg Creek Trails and Pedestrian Connectivity
3) $150,00 for the Langdon Fieldhouse water tie-in
4) $735,000 for Cross Iron Drive widening and Overlay (Dwight McLellan Trail to RR 291)
5) $2M to extend the east Rocky View water system to the Prince of Peace retirement community
The funding was available for unfunded infrastructure projects. The projects had to be identified by October 1st and the entire amount must be spent by December 31, 2021, else a municipality would risk losing the funding altogether.