Chestermere Rec Centre, Cochrane Ag Society Lands sold for $1, Rec Governance Cttee, Munic Planning
Updated: Mar 23
· SOLID WASTE AND RECYCLING REGIONAL ISSUES
· RECREATIONAL GOVERNANCE COMMITTEE
· SPRINGBANK COMMUNITY FACILITY FUNDING INITIATIVE
· MUNICIPAL PLANNING COMMISSION
· BRAGG CREEK SNOWBIRDS FUNDING APPROVED
· NEW ASP – ALONG HWY 560/GLENMORE TRAIL
· WEST VIEW ASP – COUNTY CONCERNS IGNORED
· COCHRANE AG SOCIETY LANDS TO BE SOLD FOR $1
· CHESTERMERE REC CENTRE
· MOTION FOR THREE SANCTIONED COUNCILLORS TO ATTEND RMA APPROVED
· DIVISION 4 CALGARY BUDDHIST SOCIETY APPROVED
· DIVISION 7 APPLICATION TO APPROVE 4-ACRE LOT APPROVED
· DIVISION 4 ORTHODOX CHURCH APPROVED
· FILM PRODUCTION FACILITY DEVELOPMENT PERMIT GRANTED
· DIVISION 8 SUBDIVISION APPROVED (BEARSPAW HEIGHTS)
SOLID WASTE AND RECYCLING REGIONAL ISSUES
Three topics of regional concern were identified by Administration: regional organics; waste storage site operations; and extended producer responsibility (EPR). Two of the key organic waste composting facilities have recently been closed meaning that our processing costs are increasing as we now have to ship green cart waste from Langdon to Olds.
The EPR program shifts the cost and operational responsibility for the management of recycling systems from local governments to producers. These types of programs are gaining in momentum and the Alberta Urban Municipalities Association is advocating the creation of such a program. When I asked if something similar was being considered by the Rural Municipalities Association (to which Rocky View belongs), staff suggested that this would be a positive step. I sent in a notice of motion to be read into the next council meeting asking we do the same.
RECREATIONAL GOVERNANCE COMMITTEE
At the July 23rd meeting, Council approved the creation of a new County-wide Recreation Governance model that includes the establishment of a Recreation Governance Committee comprised of Council-only members to deal with all matters related to recreation in the County.
As part of the implementation process, the Recreation Governance Committee required a bylaw, complete with Terms of Reference. As well, all current Recreation District Board Bylaws needed to be rescinded. The terms of reference and the committee were approved with some slight policy amendments from Councillor Hanson and I. While I still would have preferred that our existing district rec boards would have been able to have some input into the whole process, that was not the wish of the majority.
SPRINGBANK COMMUNITY FACILITY FUNDING INITIATIVE
A few months back, Councillor McKylor brought forward an initiative that would explore the potential funding models for a recreation facility in Springbank. The cost of a facility is estimated at $20-30 million.
Administration presented 14 potential fundraising methods to create such facilities and the pros and cons of each method. These ranged from provincially funded Municipal Sustainability Initiatives grants (MSIs), special tax levies, cost sharing with neighbouring municipalities, off-site levies, sponsorships or private partnerships, down to simple community fundraising initiatives.
Because of the complexities involved, it was recommended that Administration be directed to explore the establishment of a Recreation and Parks Foundation to support the build out and long-term maintenance of recreation and parks amenities and programs in Rocky View County. The motion was unanimously supported.
MUNICIPAL PLANNING COMMISSION
On July 23, 2019, Council directed Administration to report on a Municipal Planning Commission (MPC), draft an MPC Bylaw, and provide an implementation plan for Council’s consideration by September 24th.
As the executive summary stated. “The Municipal Government Act (MGA) provides the legislative framework to guide the operations of municipalities in Alberta, and empowers municipalities with the authority and flexibility to develop a Municipal Planning Commission (MPC) to exercise subdivision and development powers. If established, Council would shift some of the decision-making authority from Administration to the MPC, which may approve all or certain subdivision and development permits, depending on the level of authority delegated to it. The MPC would have a greater window into and control of critical development decisions as it would ultimately be responsible for reviewing subdivision and development applications, and issuing decisions that are reflective of planning policies through statutory plans and the Land Use Bylaw.”
Currently, Administration vets the applications and under a strict set of criteria determines whether the matter will be determined by Administration itself or the subdivision board. The current subdivision board consists of all of council and applications are heard during council meetings, every second and fourth Tuesday of the month. Council directed Administration to create a bylaw that will allow for the MPC to be created. It is unknown at this time if the MPC will consist solely of council members or if it will have members at large.
BRAGG CREEK SNOWBIRDS FUNDING APPROVED
This past Spring, the Bragg Creek Snowbirds had asked for $14,000 to offset the costs of taking residents in their community to medical appointments. At that time, based on budget constraints and others vying for the same funds, we committed to providing $7500, more than what was recommended by Administration.
This service runs parallel to the Handibus service that is offered to all residents of the County, including residents of Bragg Creek. It was noted this past spring that the Bragg Creek Snowbirds do not charge residents for their services whereas the Handibus does. One of the recommendations of Council was to encourage the Snowbirds to review their funding model/business plan. This was not done. Instead, they came back requesting the additional $6500 in funding they had originally been denied. With Reeve Boehlke, Councillor Hanson, Kissel and I in opposition, the motion passed 5-4.
NEW ASP – ALONG HWY 560/GLENMORE TRAIL
Council unanimously directed Administration to prepare a Terms of Reference for the proposed Glenmore Trail ASP project and return to council in three months for consideration. The cost of the ASP is estimated at $300,000. I found the cost quite high for a proposal that would benefit 40 landowners. As such, I added a clause that would provide an option to allow the project to be developer funded.
WEST VIEW ASP – COUNTY CONCERNS IGNORED
The West View ASP is a proposed area structure plan for the city of Calgary. West View is located along Hwy 1 immediately adjacent to Valley Ridge in the city’s NW. Back in July, when the ASP was circulated for comments, the County noted the following issues about West View: a lack of collaboration undertaken by the City to resolve cross boundary issues; and, a reliance on future non-statutory documents to address matters on land use interface, transportation impacts and stormwater impacts. Because Calgary only minorly addressed the County’s concerns, Administration was looking for Council direction as to whether to challenge the recommendation of the Calgary Metropolitan Region Board to approve the ASP. This was provided unanimously.
While the concerns raised are legitimate, the issue with the County complaining about the City not collaborating with the County echoes a similar sentiment that was recently made by Airdrie, Calgary and Cochrane. At a September CMRB meeting, the three urbans cited concerns about the County’s lack of collaboration over its proposed amendments to the County Plan, amendments that were ultimately rejected by the Board. Calgary’s dismissal of our concerns about the West View ASP seemed more like a matter of tit for tat than anything else, which is unfortunate. The biggest take away from this is that regional planning is here to stay and we all need to play more nicely in the sandbox if we want to get things approved.
COCHRANE AG SOCIETY LANDS TO BE SOLD FOR $1
The majority on Council opted to sell the lands currently occupied by the Cochrane Ag Society to the society for $1. While no one disputes that the society has been kept in limbo with regards to its future on the land, the option to sell them the property seems to have come completely out of left field. A tri-party committee, consisting of Cochrane, the Ag society and the County had been working together to come up with a win for all three parties (the land belongs to Rocky View but is completely surrounded by the Town of Cochrane). However, Councillor McKylor, who brought forward the motion with Schule, felt that this had been dragging on for too long with no real conclusion.
In my opinion, giving the society a lease for 30 or 50 years, as they had originally requested in their presentation to council last year, made complete sense. But selling a property valued at $7 million for $1 is unfathomable. Councillor Kissel made a motion to explore a 50-year long-term license of occupation. Her motion failed 5-4 with only Reeve Boehlke, Councillor Hanson and I in support.
The motion that passed included a caveat that ensured the lands would remain as green space and/or recreational land for 20 years. As well, Provisions that prescribe the County’s options should the lands cease being used as green space and/or recreational land prior to the expiry of 20 years will also be included. Personally, I would have found it much more palatable had the timeframe been for a minimum of 50 years that and had we involved the Town of Cochrane in the decision. The motion passed 6-3, with Hanson, Kissel and I in opposition.
CHESTERMERE REC CENTRE
Council unanimously voted to close the Chestermere Recreation Centre after an in camera (closed) session. As was noted by all of council, the safety and welfare of the users of the facility were paramount in the decision. While Councillor Gautreau’s original motion had been to sell the lands, Councillor Hanson amended the motion to include a potential option to remediate the property.
As you all know, recreational facilities are in big demand, especially arenas and ice time. I would not have been able to support simply selling the land and closing the facility permanently without evaluating potential remediation efforts. I believe we owe it to the community to explore all options before we can even consider selling it. As we had heard with the report about the new Springbank facility – a new rec centre is $20-30 million. I believe we need real numbers in order to make an informed and accurate decision about whether to close it.
UPDATE: SPECIAL MEETING CALLED RE CHESTERMERE REC CENTRE: On Friday September 27th, a special meeting was called to discuss the closure of the Chestermere Rec Centre in the face of unprecedented backlash and additional information about the facility. This time, Council held the meeting in open chambers (not in camera), receiving a presentation from the engineering firm Stantec about the roof’s structural integrity. It seems the information council had originally received was lacking some key details which would allow the facility to remain open. As such, Council voted 7-2 (McKylor and Schule were in opposition) to reopen the facility with some key provisions on how to deal with the potential snow load issues, including but not limited to the ability to close the facility in major snowstorms should the snow load become a factor.
MOTION FOR THREE SANCTIONED COUNCILLORS TO ATTEND RMA APPROVED
Councillor Kissel brought forward a motion that would allow the three sanctioned councillors, Kissel, Hanson and me, to attend the Rural Municipalities of Alberta convention in November. Under the sanctions, the three of us must ask for permission of Council to represent or travel on county business.
The Reeve insisted that we did not need permission to go to RMA as we were able to do everything all other councillors could do. He went on about the pancake breakfast and other events about and how we were allowed to attend but we “chose not to.” According to the Reeve, the only thing the sanctions make us do is request permission to have our travel expenses approved. However, when administration read the sanction aloud, it quickly became evident that the Reeve was incorrect. Further confusion ensued on behalf of the Deputy Reeve. However, it was determined that we did in fact need to ask permission. You would think that upon the clarification of the sanctions and the previous assertions of the Reeve and Deputy Reeve that the motion would have passed unanimously. Instead, it passed 5-4 with only Councillors Henn and Kamachi in support. It is becoming increasingly evident that the council majority does not understand how their imposed sanctions impact us.
DIVISION 4 CALGARY BUDDHIST SOCIETY APPROVED
An application to approve a Buddhist Church in Division 4 was approved unanimously. The property in question had a dwelling on it that was already being used as a church. Basically, the new land use redesignation would bring the lands into compliance with their current use. The surrounding community was supportive of the application which was passed unanimously.
DIVISION 7 APPLICATION TO APPROVE 4-ACRE LOT APPROVED
An application to create a 4-acre parcel with a 33-acre remainder was approved. While the lands are in an agricultural area, it was noted that the quarter section was already seriously fragmented. Not to mention, as one neighbour in support of the application noted, the land was unsuitable for farming due to the amount of rocks on the property. The application was approved unanimously.
DIVISION 4 ORTHODOX CHURCH APPROVED
An Orthodox church, with the further option for a community centre, was approved in Division 4. The application sought to rezone the lands from Ranch and Farm to Public Service. The proposed lands are located off a dead-end road that comes off Glenmore trail. The entire west side of the road is residential properties and while there was significant support from the majority of neighbours, one neighbour had considerable concerns with traffic impacts.
The rezoning would allow not only for the church but for a potential community centre that was considered phase II. This threw up some red flags for me as we were approving the rezoning on an application whose studies only considered the impacts of the church. Concerns with traffic access onto/off of Glenmore Trail were legitimate and as Councillor Gautreau noted this was cause for serious enough concern to deny the application. I agreed as did councillor McKylor. However, the rest of council felt that making council the development authority would curb any potential further issues. The application was approved 6-3.
FILM PRODUCTION FACILITY DEVELOPMENT PERMIT RENEWAL GRANTED
The renewal of a development permit for a film production facility, CL Studios, in Division 1 was granted unanimously. The original permit was for one year and administration had recommended renewing the permit in perpetuity. However, local Councillor Kamachi successfully moved to reduce it to 10 years.
Last year, the transportation off-site levies were deferred, however, Administration had recommended they now be collected. Instead of collecting the levies on the entire property, Kamachi moved to have them only collected on 5-acres, opting to defer the remainder. The County had also entered into a Road Maintenance Agreement with the landowner as there had been some major upgrades to the road. Administration wanted the county to maintain the roads but charge the landowners for this service. Council ruled in favour of Administration’s request.
Side note: Under the County’s new rules, late letters of support/objection are not allowed. However, there were two such late letters. One of the letters came from the landowner while the other came from a neighbour. The letters were refused to be accepted by council. However, Kamachi started to talk about the letter from the landowner as he had received it via email a few days earlier. When I asked if we should view the other letter as a matter of perceived fairness, my request was denied.
DIVISION 8 – BEARSPAW HEIGHTS SUBDIVISION APPROVED
The application to subdivide a 20-acre parcel into eight 2- acre lots just north of TWP Rd 262 on Bearspaw Rd was approved unanimously. The community will be known as Bearspaw Heights. The original application had caused me some concern with regards to stormwater, however, these matters were addressed sufficiently through the conditions of subdivision.