Rocky View County (RVC) is not the biggest fan of the Calgary Regional Partnership (CRP) or its crowning achievement, the Calgary Metropolitan Plan (CMP).
The county recently released a statement calling for provincial funding to the CRP to be cut in an effort to save taxpayers over $3 million during this time of revenue uncertainty in Alberta.
RVC reeve Margaret Bahcheli said since the completion of the CMP, there is no longer any need for the CRP, and that any effort by the organization is now unnecessary and could be ‘replaced with a desire to apply common sense and good-neighbour efforts.’
“Rocky View County recognizes the need for regional planning,” said Bahcheli, “but we believe the existing statutory mechanisms, coupled with the county’s commitment to cooperation, consultation and collaboration, negate any need for the additional layer of bureaucracy created by legislating the Calgary Metropolitan Plan.”
The CRP gave its own two cents last week, saying that it ‘never wanted to become another level of government or planning body that approves any local development plans.’ They add that ‘both the CRP and CMP respect local autonomy with CRP members doing their own planning,’ and that ‘what some people forget is the CMP is not regulatory.’
In addition to what Bahcheli believes to be a redundant organization, particularly with such plans already in place as the Municipal Government Act, the county has seemed to be at odds with the CRP for some time now, having rescinded its membership in 2009.
RVC has voiced concern over several key principles of the CRP, including its voting structure and its effort to ‘accommodate growth in more compact settlement patterns.’
The CMP stipulates that member municipalities must develop eight to 10 units per acre if they are to receive water and wastewater from the City of Calgary.
As far as voting is concerned, the county points to the fact that Calgary has veto powers when it comes to any amendments to the CMP, which essentially gives the city ultimate power when it comes to members of the CRP and the CMP overall.
The goals set out by the CRP are admirable and for the most part necessary. They have developed a plan that aims to reduce the region’s water consumption in preparation for what they say will be a boom in population, hitting an estimated three million by 2076.
Part of the CRP’s effort to prepare for the future is to establish some kind of development model with regards to growth densities; the problem, however, is that Calgary’s needs and goals for its residents are much different than RVC’s.
It could certainly be argued that municipalities like Cochrane, Airdrie, Okotoks, Canmore and even Chestermere (all of which are CRP members) hold similar developmental outlooks and concerns with regards to space as Calgary does, just on a much smaller scale. Building high-density housing has been a reality in these communities for several years in their efforts to accommodate rapidly growing populations, but for the majority of RVC, developing clusters of housing in small, compact spaces just seems strange.
The very nature of county life if quite different from that of city life, and the people who live in rural settings do so for that very reason, much like those who live in urban centres do so for their own reasons. Isn’t it wonderful to live in a country that has such options?
The CRP’s argument that regional planning is vital for the Calgary area and that success cannot be achieved in isolation is very true (its transit initiative is a perfect example of this). If there are to be three million people living in the area in the next 60 years, planning is essential, but does that mean the framework for that planning must be done by one regional body that allots the ability to rule with an iron fist to the biggest and most ‘important’ player in the field?
Is that fair to anyone who lives outside the city of Calgary?
Though the CRP is a voluntary organization that is not regulatory, it still requires its members to adhere to the CMP.
On Feb. 6, the CRP board voted to pursue a ‘made in the Calgary Region’ approach to its future efforts as it moves forward and agreed that both options put on the plate by the province – establish a growth management board or legislate the CMP under the South Saskatchewan Regional Plan – did not ‘fit the CRP’s requirements for mandatory compliance with the CMP…’
The CRP goes on to say that its members are ‘aligning their municipal development plans (MDP) to the CMP through the integration of “regional context statements” into their MDPs,’ and that ‘this ensures CRP municipalities are expressing, in local statutory legislation, their commitment to a shared regional vision and sustainable strategy.’
No two municipalities in the Calgary region are the same, which is particularly true when it comes to RVC.
Elections are held so people in these municipalities can vote for those they trust to lead their chosen place of residence forward in the way they believe is best – no one model can fit everyone comfortably.
Again, there is nothing wrong with the goals of the CRP, just the inclusive manner in which they are trying to attain them.
Perhaps the CMP should have included three population categories, one for cities and large municipalities, another for small towns and a third for hamlets and rural areas, like RVC. Someone living out on Township Road 283 has a much different perspective than a resident of downtown Calgary.