Motion to create truck haul routes, Mountain Ridge Waterline, Election boundary/governance review
· CREATION OF AUTHORIZED TRUCK ROUTES/HAUL AGREEMENTS
· MOUNTAIN RIDGE PLACE WATERLINE
· ELECTION BOUNDARY AND GOVERNANCE STRUCTURE REVIEW
· REVIEW AND DISPOSAL OF FEE SIMPLE LANDS
· MUNICIPAL PLANNING COMMISSION BYLAW CREATED
· COUNCIL POLICIES RESCINDED
· PUBLIC NOTIFICATION BYLAW
· DIVISION 2’S RIVER EDGE APPLICATION GIVEN SECOND AND THIRD READING
· APPLICATION FOR REDESIGNATION FROM RANCH AND FARM TO R1 APPROVED
· APPLICATIONS GIVEN FIRST READING IN DIVISION 8
CREATION OF AUTHORIZED TRUCK ROUTES/HAUL AGREEMENTS
In October, Councillor Kissel and I brought forward a notice of motion to allow for identified truck haul routes in the County. Our motion was in response to the number of complaints I received this past summer about commercial/industrial trucks using Burma Rd. When I spoke with Councillor Kissel about this, she had mentioned that she was having similar complaints along Weedon Trail and Horse Creek Rd.
The crux of our motion was to create safer roads. Our original motion was not limited to Divisions 8 and 9, however, it quickly became evident that many other councillors didn’t support such bans in their own communities as they perceived it as a potential inhibitor to new business or that it would be detrimental to farm vehicles. Of note, farm vehicles are exempt from road bans and local deliveries would still be permitted.
Rocky View is changing, many of our communities are no longer rural and the clash between industrial/commercial and residential is becoming increasingly apparent. This past summer, there was an incident at the intersection of 112th St and Country Hills Blvd in Calgary where a gravel truck flipped on its side. The city promptly changed its rules around how trucks operate at that intersection. The threat of having those trucks start to utilize county roads is real and we need to be prepared.
Our motion passed 4-3, with Councillors Schule, Gautreau and Henn in opposition. Councillors McKylor and Kamachi were absent. Administration will bring back a report in March 2020.
MOUNTAIN RIDGE PLACE WATERLINE
Last month, Councillor Kissel and I brought forward a motion that would allow for cost-recovery for residents along Mountain Ridge Rd in Division 9.
In 2005, Council directed Administration to proceed with a local improvement tax to finance the installation of a water line in the Mountain Ridge Place area. The cost of the line was $810,000, of which $700,000 was covered by the County with the understanding that 25 residents would pay it back (with interest) over 25 years.
In 2013, an additional property hooked in and an adjustment was made to the amount owing. A couple of years after that, another property apparently tied in but did not have to pay. As such, the motion asked to have any new connections to the waterline pay their share of the burden. Administration stated that this was always the intended case and that they would reach out to the water co-op to ensure that any future connections would be subject to paying their share of the outstanding amount. The motion passed 6-3 with all but Councillors McKylor, Schule and Gautreau in support.
ELECTION BOUNDARY AND GOVERNANCE STRUCTURE REVIEW
Council approved a $100,000 budget adjustment to retain an independent consultant to review the County’s electoral divisions and governance models. The current boundaries are out of date, meaning that in many divisions the variance exceeds the generally accepted +/-25% variance established under judicial precedence. The review will also evaluate whether we want to stay with the 9-councillor model or explore a mayor-at-large/8-councillor model.
In September, the majority on Council approved a process that would involve nominal public engagement, despite the fact that the resulting changes could be quite significant. The project is estimated to be completed by July 2020, well in advance of the December 2020 deadline for it to be implemented for the October 2021 municipal election.
REVIEW AND DISPOSAL OF FEE SIMPLE LANDS
In July, Council directed Administration to prepare a list of fee simple lands owned by the County detailing their associated uses and whether they are deemed surplus (not needed for any current or future municipal purpose). The County owns 110 fee simple parcels of which 58 have been deemed surplus.
In 2018, Administration started the process of bringing forward an annual workplan that detailed surplus fee simple lands to Council for its review. At that time, Council indicated that they wanted the proceeds of the sale of these lands to go towards recreation, however, no motion was created. Since then, it has been determined that many of the identified fee simple parcels are either of little value or are revenue neutral.
Admin stated that they had been a little over-zealous in what they thought the County may be able to sell as these are not traditional real-estate transactions, rather, it is typically the adjacent landowner or occupant/user-group that purchases these parcels. As a result, Administration recommended maintaining the status quo and following the workplan. Council agreed unanimously.
MUNICIPAL PLANNING COMMISSION BYLAW
In September, Council directed Administration to prepare a bylaw providing authority for the newly created Municipal Planning Commission (MPC) to make decisions on subdivision and development permit applications.
As the Administrative report stated “the intention behind the creation of a Municipal Planning Commission is to ensure that all of Council has a role in managing growth and development in the County…it keeps Council engaged and shifts the decision-making authority from Administration for subdivision and development applications”.
There were questions as to whether Council would just receive applications which did not conform to policy or would they hear all applications. It was determined that in the beginning we would hear everything until we are comfortable setting parameters allowing certain decisions to be made by Admin.
Starting in February, MPC meetings will be held once a month, moving to twice a month in June. It remains to be determined whether the MPC will consist entirely of Councillors or if it will also include members-at-large. It will also be further debated if Councillors should receive additional remuneration for sitting on the MPC.
COUNCIL POLICIES RESCINDED
Administration has been working diligently to revamp/review the County’s policies. In many cases policies which are Administrative in nature have fallen under Council’s control. To better align with the MGA and to create more efficiencies, Administration recommended rescinding the following policies: Disbursement Policy and Tangible Capital Assets Policy. Council agreed.
It was also recommended that the Capital Priorities Policy and the Storm Drainage Improvement Policy be removed from Council. However, when Councillor Hanson inquired as to whether there was an Administrative policy to replace these policies, Administration indicated there were not. As a result, the motions were tabled until Administrative policies are drafted.
PUBLIC NOTIFICATION BYLAW
The MGA requires public notification matters to be advertised in a newspaper or through direct mail. Establishing a public notification bylaw allows the County to have some flexibility in choosing other methods to disseminate information. The key change with this bylaw is that the County’s website is named as the primary public notification channel.
The County wants to move more information onto its website and early next year intends to create portals that will provide more information on a variety of topics. While this is understandable, in a county like Rocky View where not everyone has reliable internet, the County needs to make sure that it continues to advertise/post public notifications in the local newspaper.
Those speaking in opposition claimed they weren’t opposed to going to an online format but had concerns with how that would play out. They emphasized the reliance of small newspapers on local governments for their livelihood noting that small newspapers were “critical to democracy”. County funding for advertising is a key component of keeping local newspapers alive. Not to mention, relying on information solely from the county’s perspective provides a subjective view, whereas journalism allows for a far more objective opinion. As one of the speakers noted, going online to seek information requires far more active thought than merely flipping through a newspaper that comes in your mail – changing formats requires an education component.
My view is that until all residents of the County enjoy reliable internet, and residents are made aware of the changes to how they receive information, the need to maintain a print format is critical. Administration committed to advertising in and utilizing the local newspaper as one of its key methods for the foreseeable future. The motion passed unanimously.
DIVISION 2’S RIVER EDGE APPLICATION GIVEN SECOND AND THIRD READING
In June, an application for the River Edge proposal in Division 2 was held at first reading as Council requested further information from the applicant. The additional information included a stormwater management plan, servicing strategy, revised transportation network and revised concept scheme.
The application sought to create a direct control district with 49 lots on a quarter section along the Elbow River. The application did not conform with any policy. It was not within an area structure plan, as such its densities did not conform to the County Plan. It contravened the South Saskatchewan Regional Plan, the Rocky View/City of Calgary Inter-development plan and the Interim Growth Plan.
The applicant did little to address the request for the stormwater management plan stating that it would be addressed at the subdivision stage. The purpose of a concept scheme is to allow for more information at the redesignation stage so that a proposal’s viability can be better determined. Considering this application is along a ridge that drains into the Elbow River, a key source of the region’s water supply, this is not something that should be brushed off in my opinion.
Many residents came to speak in opposition to the plan stating that they had concerns with traffic, water supply, wastewater and stormwater management. They stated that they had bought into the area to escape from the city and that the area wasn’t slated for such densities and couldn’t fathom how an application that did not follow policy could be approved.
The applicants stated that they would be able to secure water from a local provider. They also stated that the type of wastewater facility they planned to operate was successful in other areas of Alberta. However, to approve the application would require setting aside county policy 449 and 430, as the lack of expandability of the system meant that it would not be feasible for the County to take it over in the future (one of the conditions of wastewater treatment facilities). Stormwater was proposed to be handled through a pond which would drain into a ditch and eventually the Elbow River.
The application passed 6-3 with Councillors Hanson, Kissel and me in opposition. I was not comfortable setting aside every piece of policy to approve the application. For me to contemplate doing so would require overwhelming support from the immediate community and giving greater detail about the plan at this stage.
APPLICATION FOR REDESIGNATION FROM RANCH AND FARM TO R1 APPROVED
An application to take a 6.52-acre parcel to create a 3-acre and 3.52-acre remainder in Division 4 was approved unanimously. Administration recommended refusal as it was inconsistent with policy.
The original parcel was a first parcel out from a quarter-section. It had been purchased by two families with the hopes of creating two dwellings on the property. After doing some work, the families realized it would be better to have separate titles on the land.
On Ranch and Farm parcels, policy does not allow for more than one parcel to be separated from a quarter-section – an endeavour to stop the fragmentation of agricultural parcels. However, in this case, no new land was going to be taken from the quarter section, rather they were simply asking to have the first parcel out divided in half, land that was already removed from ag production.
APPLICATIONS GIVEN FIRST READING IN DIVISION 8
Under the new Procedures Bylaw, applications must be reviewed by Council to determine if they are worthy of being heard in a public hearing format. When this occurs, an application receives first reading and a public hearing is scheduled for a later date.
In Bearspaw, the following applications received first reading:
· Bunny Hollow – application to redesignate subject lands from R2 to R1 – to take a 5-acre parcel and create two parcels – a 2-acre with a 3-acre remainder.
· Poplar Hill – Rich Hill Concept Scheme to redesignate subject lands from R2 to R1 – to take a 19.7-acre parcel and create 7 lots ranging in size from 2.07-acres to 2.47-acres.
· Poplar Hill/TWP Rd 262 – application to redesignate subject lands from R2 to R1 – to take an 11.43-acre property and create 5 lots ranging in size from 2-acres to 3.1-acres.