June Bearspaw Beat - Specialized municipality
Did you know that Rocky View County is looking at becoming a specialized municipality? What’s that, you say? A specialized municipality is one that recognizes both its urban and rural areas under one municipal government.
Specialized municipality status, in a county as diverse as Rocky View, has the potential to provide enormous benefit, the most important being the ability to adapt our tax rate. A variable tax rate not only differentiates residents based on servicing requirements, rural vs urban, it can also be adapted to our commercial and industrial business settings – big box enterprise vs small family owned business. Basically, it helps level the playing field.
A specialized municipality also allows for a more balanced approach to governance, it helps ensure more proportionate levels of representation. This is increasingly important when we consider that the hamlet of Langdon is approaching 7,000 residents. As well, areas like Harmony, Conrich and Cochrane North are also expanding. That doesn’t mean they don’t deserve a voice, but it cannot be at the expense of those in lesser populated areas.
Another positive with becoming a specialized municipality is access to grant funding, both federal and provincial. Funding is often based on a municipality’s designation, rural or urban; being recognized as specialized provides opportunity to apply for both.
On the recreation front, the County is working on creating a new recreation Master Plan that will provide a more regional perspective. Considering the current model is almost 50 years old, this is a real positive.
The County is currently divided into 10 regions, each region has its own rec board. While this has worked well in the past, as the County and the region grow, the need to explore more complimentary and wider reaching servicing increases. There are numerous studies and needs’ assessments being performed both in the County and on a regional level, the goal of which is to help maximize the usage of the recreational facilities we currently have and identify gaps in the servicing we need.
Recreational facilities are expensive, taking a regional approach to recreation is a win all – it helps eliminate duplication. For years, the city has claimed that Rocky View residents are too dependent on their facilities. In doing these studies, we can strengthen our position as a regional player by illustrating how many city residents utilize County rec facilities.