The Calgary Metropolitan Region Board (CMRB) has released its Growth Plan, which will become effective on Aug. 15.
Established in 2018, the CMRB is a governance board consisting of elected representatives from Airdrie, Calgary, Chestermere, Cochrane, Foothills County, High River, Okotoks, and Rocky View County. The Growth Plan is the CMRB's guide for the Calgary metropolitan region's municipalities to handle the expected population influx, which is estimated to expand by one million people between 2048 and 2053.
The 124-page plan outlines many objectives, including balancing regional growth throughout all municipalities, focusing on a variety of housing and neighbourhood types, promoting walkable communities, and strengthening the livability of existing regions.
“The result [of the plan] is an approach to growth management which is uniquely tailored to our region and which will provide a range of diverse mobility and housing options for current and future residents,” stated the plan, which can be accessed at bit.ly/3QwAKiw.
The main components of the growth plan include a vision to reduce water consumption, vehicle mileage, carbon emissions, land consumption, and the cost of infrastructure to promote growth.
A portion of Rocky View County (RVC), encompassing most of Balzac, has been labelled as a joint planning area within the growth plan. Although these lands will remain RVC's jurisdiction, approval from the CMRB is needed to conduct development within joint planning areas.
“Joint Planning Areas provide opportunities for neighbouring municipalities to collaborate in areas where growth impacts municipalities and where a high level of municipally provided services will be necessary to support the full potential of the area,” stated the growth plan.
“Joint Planning Areas are to be treated as study areas for planning purposes where the appropriate locations for growth are to be determined,” stated the report.
Three hamlets in RVC have been identified as hamlet growth areas, including Harmony, Bragg Creek, and Langdon. According to the plan, hamlet growth areas “are meant to enhance the rural character of the region by adding strategically located nodes.”
When reached for comment on the release of the growth plan, RVC stated the municipality will be providing a public update to council in September. At that time, council will address how the growth plan might affect the county.
“The County is committed to building strong regional relationships and a philosophy of ‘act locally, think regionally’,” read the County’s emailed statement. “Mutually beneficial cooperation is integral to meeting the needs of Rocky View residents and neighbouring communities.”
Last year, RVC expressed disappointment regarding the proposed growth plan, alongside two other rural municipalities within the CMRB. The rural municipalities include RVC, Foothills County, and Wheatland County (which has since departed the CMRB). The counties argued the plan was too urban-focused and took away rural autonomy.
Further, last year’s plan left RVC representatives concerned about the potential for the County to grow within the proposed joint planning areas and growth hamlets.
Because the seven other municipalities voted in favour of the plan, it was ultimately approved.