Opinion: Who’s afraid of Langdon’s moderate growth plan?

By Enrique Massot
The County News Online

Why would some members of the Rocky View Council, supposed to represent the constituents, be determined to ignore technical advice, the wishes of the Langdon community and the County’s own planning policies?

On May 10, area Coun. Rolly Ashdown made a last-minute attempt to significantly expand the Langdon area structure plan (ASP), from what had been proposed by County planners.

Ashdown’s motion failed by the smallest possible margin: A tie vote of the eight councillors present. Reeve Greg Boehlke; Deputy Reeve Earl Solberg and Coun. Eric Lowther saw it appropriate to support Ashdown’s proposed amendment.

Coun. Margaret Bahcheli was absent due to a family matter.

Lowther also made a motion attempting to accomplish a similar effect to an ASP expansion—it failed 5-3, with Boehlke jumping to the opposing side this time.

The outcome prompted both Boehlke and Ashdown to blame County planners for not following Council’s “strict instructions” and for calling in a lawyer to assist Council on legal ASP matters—something akin to blame staff for doing their job. (More on those “instructions” in a follow-up report).

The four councillors supporting expanding the ASP argued planners had not followed closely enough a report commissioned to inform the ASP.

County planners Amy Zaluski and Meghan Norman repeatedly explained the process during March 8, March 22 and May 10 deliberations.

They noted they drafted the plan taking into account the residents’ desire to keep the hamlet’s rural character established through a survey of each of the hamlet’s 1,600 residences, five open houses, two online surveys, and meetings with landowners and stakeholders.

The result was a draft ASP allowing moderated residential and commercial hamlet growth to a population of about 13,000 over 1,100 acres and where development is to occur over a period of 10 to 25 years.

But Ashdown, Boehlke, Lowther and Solberg were unhappy. They wanted to expand the ASP to encompass 5,000 acres, with capacity for 33,000 new residents.

The planners noted they had considered Weed Lake’s limited capacity to receive stormwater and the capacity of the local wastewater treatment plant to service 8,400 residents maximum.

They had also considered Rocky View’s main planning document—the County Plan—several engineering studies and a local committee’s recommendations.

That was all the planners could do: after submitting the draft plan, it’s up to Council to decide on any changes.

Which brings us to the original question: Why would the area councillor be so intent in fundamentally altering a plan at the eleventh hour, in total disregard for his community’s wishes and a process that extended for over a year? Why would, in their wisdom, three additional councillors believe it to be a reasonable, prudent option?

The only possible answer is, they were interested in fostering interests that are not those of the public.

Which would be nice were not that members of Council are supposed to represent the interests of the residents who elect them—and pay their wages.

________________________________________________________

(Editor’s note): Reeve Greg Boehlke and Coun. Rolly Ashdown made statements just before the final, unanimous vote that adopted the Langdon area structure plan on May 10. Here are both statements:

Coun. Rolly Ashdown’s closing statement

“I don’t like this ASP. I do not like hardly anything about it (sic). I don’t like the process. I don’t like the fact that people didn’t follow strict instructions that Council gave. I don’t like the idea that (the ASP) does not have appropriate phasing. I don’t like the concept that adds up to 13,400 people but it’s over the next 20 years. I don’t like so much about it it’s shocking, but there is no way I am going to hold up people in Langdon from having an ASP, and I do recognize that I suppose if we have a different day and we have different concepts and different ideas and different acceptances that we can also make amendments to it, it will. I heard that it is a living document and I accept that it’s what it is, and as a living document I believe I am going to be part of putting casts on all the broken pieces over the next little while.”

Reeve Greg Boehlke’s closing statement

“I am going to support it dragging my feet. I really, really think we need to start looking at our process here. This little ASP has taken way, way too much time and controversy whether it’s the process at the start, or the finish, or here, there is something dramatically wrong with our process. When people in the community come in and speak against something and yet say that the plan is a good plan but they need some changes and we resist that with every bit of might that we have including bringing the lawyer twice, I find that offensive. So I am going to support it to help the neighbourhood get through, but it won’t happen again.”

Springbank Creek subdivision to be considered May 24

Div. 2 Coun. Jerry Arshinoff update to residents:

1) Springbank Creek Public Hearing (Bylaw C-7506-2015)

  • Will be at 10 am on Tuesday, May 24 at RV Admin HQ (911 – 32nd Ave NE )
  • As it is the first PH of the day it should start on time
  • Proposed: 48 single detached homes on minimum 1 acre lots 
  • Location: south of Lower Springbank Road between RR 32 and RR 33
  • Details on page 16 (Item C1 ) of Council Agenda 
Public Participation at the Public Hearing:
You may speak for 5 minutes or 10 if you represent someone other than yourself
Residents really should try to attend and voice their opinions be they positive or negative
Resident opinions should be (hopefully will be) a major aspect in Council determination
If you are unable to attend you can send an email to RV (nhousenga@rockyview.ca) and request to have your letter inserted as part of Council’s information package.

2) Springbank Off-stream Reservoir (SR1) 

‘I don’t like this ASP’: Councillor

Council approves ASP as is—rejects big changes

By Enrique Massot
County News Online

“I don’t like this ASP,” said Coun. Rolly Ashdown before reluctantly moving approval of the Langdon area structure plan (ASP) at the end of a long debate on May 10. “I don’t like hardly anything (sic) about it.”

In spite of the area councillor’s dislike, Council approved the Langdon ASP unanimously with the vote of eight councillors present, in absence of Coun. Margaret Bahcheli.

Langdon Centre Street

Langdon Centre Street

 

Area councillor loses ASP expansion motion

Earlier on, however, Ashdown had attempted to introduce a significant expansion of the ASP.

“I want to propose a new hamlet boundary…a wider ASP boundary (and) I want a third area which is wider (and) a Future Study Area,” he said.

The proposed change was defeated in a 4-4 tie vote, with councillors Jerry Arshinoff; Liz Breakey; Lois Habberfield and Bruce Kendall voting in opposition.

In support of Ashdown’s amendment were Reeve Greg Boehlke; Coun. Eric Lowther; and Deputy Reeve Earl Solberg.

“It’s an insult to the rest of the members of Council.” Coun. Bruce Kendall

Coun. Bruce Kendall said the amendments represented a “massive change” to the plan, brought at the eleventh hour.

“I am trying to bite my tongue here,” he said. “For this to be presented to us today I think it’s an insult to the rest of the members of Council.”

“It is a—excuse me—a travesty to do this to the development community that is lined up,” Kendall said.

Kendall could not continue because without warning, Reeve Greg Boehlke cut off his mic.

Ashdown chastised Administration, implying the draft ASP should have followed more closely a report prepared by the Langdon Technical Review Committee that included developer consultant Al Schule and developer Peter Loats as members.

The LTRC studied an area larger than the ASP itself, and a motion by Reeve Boehlke in 2013 directed planners to adopt the recommendations to the ASP. However, the report did not make a recommendation regarding ASP size.

“I don’t like the fact that people didn’t follow strict instructions that Council gave,” said Ashdown.

ASP size changes require public hearing: lawyer

Coun. Lois Habberfield also spoke against expanding the plan, saying she had not seen, during her five terms in office, such large changes proposed for an ASP at the end of the approval process.

“How we can approve an ASP that isn’t what an ASP has to be?” she asked.

Legal counsel Joanne Klauer advised Council that unplanned addition of lands would require additional public input.

“That is a substantial change to this plan that will require a new public hearing,” she said.

However, several councillors agreed with Ashdown’s proposal.

“Just changing the boundaries a little bit.” Coun. Rolly Ashdown

“I think this is a really good approach,” said Deputy Reeve Earl Solberg.

Coun. Eric Lowther proposed to expand stormwater planning to an area much larger than the ASP area.

“We seem to have locked stormwater into the ASP,” he said.

Earlier, an engineering consultant told Council that lands required for a stormwater management plan for the area did not need to be part of the ASP.

“That’s irrespective of the area structure plan boundaries or development boundaries,” said Colin McNabb, Calgary Regional Manager for MPE Engineering.

Council gave preliminary approval to Lowther’s amendment, which Coun. Liz Breakey opposed.

What we’ve been asked to approve here is a stormwater management plan,” she said. “It’s no longer an ASP.”

Council rejected a second proposal by Lowther that would have extended the ASP policies to development projects located outside the plan boundaries.

Cheaper land attracts developers: Councillor

Habberfield said the proposal was irregular.

“We say ‘here is the ASP. Get on the fringe. Go ahead and give it a shot,” she said. “Typically land outside of an ASP is cheaper to buy and then people want to develop outside rather than inside because they don’t have to pay all the same costs. It’s a mixed message.”

Since the draft ASP release in January, Langdon utility companies, the local chamber of commerce and some developers lobbied for considerable expansion of the ASP, to allow for 33,000 new residents instead of 8,400 as proposed in the ASP draft recommended by Administration.

They argued that a viable solution to the area’s stormwater woes required an expanded ASP.

On the other hand, developers like Bob Orysiuk of Encompass Land Consulting, who works with the 400-acre West Pointe Langdon project, spoke in support of the ASP.

Keep small town character: Residents

A number of residents, alarmed by the expansion lobbying efforts, wrote letters requesting the ASP be kept either at Administration-recommended size or smaller.

“We hope and wish for a small town lifestyle that is why we live here, wrote Ryan Schmidt. “Turning Langdon into a population the size of a small city is very upsetting to people,”

Coun. Jerry Arshinoff said a stormwater plan prepared by MPE Engineering and advice from County Administration provided a valid strategy for the ASP.

“And others have said no, it has to be a larger area. So, basically we spent three days (saying) yes it is, no it is not.”

ASP proposed change small: Councillor

Ashdown assured his peers that his proposal was not a large change.

“It’s just changing the boundaries a little bit,” he said. “It’s not a big change to the hamlet area. It is not.”

Habberfield said after debating the ASP on March 8, March 22 and taking most of the day debating on May 10, it was time to make a decision.

“I do not think this ASP is that complicated and I am very frustrated that it keeps getting delayed,” she said, “and we’re trying to justify making a larger area for what I think aren’t valid reasons.”

Ashdown hoped he would be able to introduce changes to the ASP in the future.

“I believe I am going to be part of putting casts on all the (ASP) broken pieces for the next little while,” he said.

Boehlke said Council’s system needs a review.

“So I am going to support it to help the neighbourhood get through, but it won’t happen again,” he said.

The official recording of the May 10 meeting can be listened to by clicking here.

Springbank development, reservoir: time for public input

Rocky View Div. 2 Springbank Coun. Jerry Arshinoff Update to residents

May 24 – Springbank Creek Public Hearing

The Springbank Creek Public Hearing, identified as Bylaw C-7506-2015, will be held on May 24.

Jerry Arshinoff

Jerry Arshinoff

Start time – presumably 10 a.m. or 1:30 p.m. – won’t be known until Wednesday, May 18 when it will be on the Rocky View website. Springbank Creek is intended to be a residential development south of Springbank Road, between RR 32 and 33. If I knew the precise details of what they are proposing I would tell you. However, I won’t know until May 18.

I encourage all concerned to attend and speak at the Public Hearing. You may speak for five minutes—or 10 minutes if you represent a group. For detailed information on how to participate, check the County’s website page.

If you have positive or negative thoughts concerning the development itself and/or its effects on drainage, transportation, property values, etc., you should attend. If you are unable to attend you can email LegislativeServices@rockyview.ca and request to have your letter inserted as part of Council’s information package.

Public opinion should (I hope) form a major part of Council’s decision making criteria. We do need to hear from the public.

Note: Don’t be discouraged from voicing your opinion. I was greatly encouraged last Tuesday when Council passed a very fair and reasonable Langdon ASP that was in keeping with the expressed desires of the Landgon and area community as posted in the County News.

Springbank Master Drainage Plan (SBMDP) 

The plan is now on the Rocky View website.

The long-awaited SBMDP was finally provided to Council 10 days ago. I specifically asked that it be put on the RV website. This was done, but only for a few days and then it was removed. The explanation, believe it or not, was that if members of the public wanted it – either digital or hard copy – they would have to pay $150.

I strongly objected, especially since a variety of studies are on the Rocky View website for other County areas. I was told it would be back on the website if it became relevant to an issue before Council – yet the Springbank Creek public hearing (above) was postponed from March 22 until May 24 only because we needed the drainage study first.

In addition, the Springbank area structure plan (ASP) is to begin in a few months. The drainage study will be a major aspect of that ASP.

End Result: I received a commitment from Admin to leave the plan on the website for three months – until August 10, 2016, after which it will cost $150 per person. So…download it now. I will certainly insist that it be kept on the website permanently but I still suggest you download it now. I offer the above convoluted explanation only because so many people have asked.

Springbank Road and RR 31 Intersection

Many local people have stated this intersection is dangerous

Many residents told me so just this week. I am aware of the issue as, among other things, my wife Diane will take a detour to avoid going through that intersection.

The long-term plan is to divide both roads and/or have turning lanes with lights at the intersection. However long term means many years and is dependent on population.

In the interim, I received a commitment from Rocky View Road Operations “to review the signage of the intersection to see if some safety improvements can be made.”

Springbank Off-stream Reservoir

Public input on the project to be received until May 30

Information received with thanks from the SCPA-Springbank Community Planning Association:

The Alberta government recently announced plans to proceed with the Springbank Off-stream Reservoir as a flood mitigation project.

The Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) field studies required for the project are underway and will continue for 14 to 16 months.

On May 6, the Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency (CEAA) started its review of the project description. CEAA has up to 45 days to review the document, including a 20-day public comment period to determine if a federal environmental assessment is required.

The opportunity for public input ends on May 30, so all those interested or directly impacted need to act now. 

A Springbank Reservoir Letter is attached, drafted by the Don’t Damn Springbank (DDS) group.  Please personalize the draft letter by making your own changes before you send it, but please send it soon. The objective of the letter is to ask CEAA to proceed with a full federal environmental assessment.

The fate of our Springbank community depends upon Springbank residents speaking up and telling CEAA how this massive and very expensive project will impact you and your community.

If you did not attend one of the public open houses May 10 and 11, please see the new poster boards that provincial government presented.

Of particular note, the provincial government has not provided updated current project costs – the original estimates provided in early 2015 have long since been discredited – even government staff admit that they were just preliminary estimates. The actual costs could be considerably more than stated on those estimates. That would be your hard-earned tax dollars!

As you will see from the new poster boards, new costs are being added daily but no new total costs have been provided. Staff admit that they will not be able to provide a new total cost estimate until spring 2017. So why the government would be pushing ahead without the appropriate facts or data?

From the May 10, 2016 open house poster boards:

“The Springbank Off-stream Reservoir and upstream local mitigation were chosen over the McLean Creek Dam because the Springbank option is:

  • Less costly,
  • Will have less environmental impact,
  • Has shorter timelines and,
  • Will capture more runoff due to the Springbank Off-stream Reservoir’s location further downstream.
  • “Total area within the project perimeter is 3,610 acres, (of which) the flooded area would be approximately 1,950 acres.”
  • (SR1 is) “More environmentally friendly than the McLean Creek Dam, which would require the removal of trees and vegetation from the reservoir area and would irreparably alter the habitat for wildlife and fish population”  … and the Springbank Off-stream Reservoir project wouldn’t?

Currently the Environment Impact Assessment field work will only examine two areas:

  • The area within the project perimeter plus a buffer zone around it and
  • The Glenmore Reservoir located approximately 18.5 km downstream

What about:

  • The Elbow River valley
  • The floodplain
  • Riparian habitats, wildlife and native vegetation
  • First Nations land
  • Communities such as Elbow Valley and Discovery Ridge
  • Homes, families, businesses, golf courses, and roads in the 18-km river stretch between those two study areas?

Are they of no interest or consequence to the provincial government? 

Will they study the risk of a catastrophic event affecting the areas downstream from the proposed dam and upstream from Glenmore Reservoir?

Not according to the new poster boards. Add to that the proposed removal of ranching families, their homes, ranch buildings, heritage, businesses and livelihoods and the loss of their privately-owned land.

The Springbank community would be decimated physically and culturally, and many ranching families’ futures would be negatively impacted forever.

We need to call the provincial government on these very important issues and let the CEAA know all the reasons Springbank residents and many others oppose the Springbank Off-stream Reservoir.

And that the CEAA, therefore, must proceed with a full federal environmental assessment.

Please submit a letter to the CEAA now, and copy it to your MP, your MLA, the provincial Environment Minister and the Premier of Alberta:

Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency (CEAA)

Email: CEAA.PNR-RPN.ACEE@ceaa-acee.gc.ca

Springbank MLA is Leela Aheer

Email: chestermere.rockyview@assembly.ab.ca

Bragg Creek MLA is Cameron Westhead

Email: banff.cochrane@assembly.ab.ca

Alberta MLAs Minister Shannon Phillips, Environment

Email: AEP.Minister@gov.ab.ca

Premier Rachel Notley Email: premier@gov.ab.ca

John Barlow is the MP for the Springbank area

Email: John.Barlow@parl.gc.ca

Alberta MPs

If you have questions about the project, contact Mark Svenson, Government of Alberta at 780-644-8354 or email at springbank-project@gov.ab.ca More:

When the EIA is complete in the Spring 2017, the regulatory review process will begin, conducted by the Natural Resource Conservation Board (NRCB). If the SR1 project receives regulatory approval it will move into a procurement phase and then construction.

Opinion: Langdon plan a Rocky View success story

(Editor’s note): After about eight hours of debate, the Langdon area structure plan (ASP) was adopted by the Rocky View Council on May 10. Div. 2 Coun. Jerry Arshinoff offers his view of the end result and of the bumps along the road. The County News will publish an account of the process highlights later this week.

By Jerry Arshinoff
Rocky View Councillor, Div. 2 Springbank

Jerry Arshinoff

Jerry Arshinoff

On May 10, Rocky View Council passed Administration’s recommended version of the Langdon area structure plan (ASP).

This is a true success story as it really is the case of Council acting according to the wishes of the majority.

Only one possibly significant amendment was accepted.

Other than committing Administration to a lot of useless work, it is to be seen what impact that recommendation may have.

The decision was a close one. A variety of ludicrous amendments were proposed and rejected by a 4-4 vote (lost on a tie).

That included a long list of last minute amendments that were designed to circumvent and disregard more than a full year of public input.

Rocky View’s own legal counsel clearly advised several of the proposed amendments were illegal unless a fourth public hearing would be held.

However, the amendments still received four supporting votes (usually from Councillors Rolly Ashdown, Greg Boehlke, Eric Lowther and Earl Solberg) but were rejected by Councillors Liz Breakey, Lois Habberfield, Bruce Kendall and I (Due to a  family illness, Councillor Margaret Bahcheli was absent).

The essence of the matter was a choice between the administrative recommended ASP—a publicly-supported plan to allow Langdon to grow at a moderate rate—or to significantly expand the ASP boundaries in order to keep every developer happy.

After the Council decision, both area Councillor Ashdown and Reeve Boehlke claimed there was nothing good about the approved ASP. According to them it was just awful. Yet, that same ASP fully accounted for proper and affordable drainage, was in keeping with the County Plan and was in accordance with the constantly expressed desires of the great majority of Langdon and area residents. Several residents, notably Doug White and Vince Young, explained the fears and aspirations of residents. Janet Ballantyne, a Rocky View resident who lives very far from Langdon, very eloquently detailed why ASPs and drainage issues anywhere in Rocky View affect everyone everywhere in the County.

After the March 8 and March 22 sessions, this was the third time the Langdon ASP came before Council. Each time the same issues were discussed.  Due to the usual Council members insisting on more and more studies (in other words – find or commission a study that says what they want it to say), administrative time must have cost Rocky View taxpayers a fortune. Despite the closeness of the votes, when it finally ended the Langdon residents won—and the future of their community will be in accordance with their desires.

This doesn’t happen all the time, but it certainly is wonderful when it does.

 

Opinion: Decision on Langdon growth must consider residents

By Enrique Massot
County News Online

Is the Council of Rocky View County going to listen to residents and keep Langdon as a hamlet?

Or, are developers going to obtain a plan that will make the hamlet a city?

On May 10, Council will consider, for the third time, a plan for moderate growth, from centre to periphery, created with significant community input valuing Langdon’s small town character.

However, developers have been lobbying hard to expand the plan to as much as five times larger.

To foster their case, they have linked a solution to the hamlet’s stormwater woes to more development—a false argument, since more residents will simply require larger drainage infrastructures at higher costs.

In form letters submitted to the County, undetermined authors touted development as a provider of funds to build amenities such as a recreation centre—a seriously misleading statement, since Rocky View does not have mandatory levies for such amenities.

However, several members of Council appear willing to consider the developers’ arguments.

If they follow suite, they would ignore a one-year-long process during which a large majority of Langdon residents expressed their will to keep the hamlet’s small town character.

The developers’ interest is easy to understand: Inclusion in an ASP is a municipal endorsement that instantly adds value to lands included—even those that have significant challenges or are just unsuitable for development.

The public good, however, requires that technical matters and local conditions such as Langdon’s vulnerability to floods should have the upper hand when designing future growth.

Most importantly, Langdon residents’s aspirations, which are in tune with the County Plan’s policy of growing hamlets to between 5,000 and 10,000 residents, should be given priority attention.

 

 

Langdon plan needs no expansion: planners, residents

The agenda for the May 10 Rocky View Council meeting contains bad news for those seeking to expand a plan for Langdon growth to make room for 33,000 new residents.

Vince Young

Vince Young

“We do not agree for our town to grow any larger,” wrote resident Kristin McCutcheon in a letter to Rocky View. “We moved out of the city to Langdon for (its) small town feel.”

Arguments that a larger area structure plan (ASP) is needed to fix stormwater issues and to reduce phosphorous loading into Weed Lake have been deconstructed by County planners on pages 28 to 31 of the agenda containing a staff report to Council.

“Rocky View County consistently provides servicing strategies that are not tied to ASP boundaries,” reads the planners’ report.

“Additional lands for the expansion of the ASP boundary are not required to support the proposed stormwater improvements or increase the quality of water draining to Weed Lake.”

In their report, the planners also responded to Reeve Greg Boehlke’s claims that staff did not follow through with his 2014 motion to incorporate the recommendations of the Langdon Technical Review Committee (LTCR) to the ASP.

“Recommendations regarding stormwater infrastructure from the LTRC have been included in the ASP as directed by Council,” the planners wrote. “In most cases the recommendations have been transferred verbatim from the recommendations report into the proposed Langdon ASP.”

County planners also pointed out that more lands are not needed to generate levies financing stormwater management.

“The proposed stormwater levy will collect funds for both the implementation of the regional stormwater management system (CSMI) as well for improvements to the local drainage network for the Hamlet,” the report noted.

“We moved out of the city to Langdon for (its) small town feel.” Kristin McCutcheon

And Alberta Transportation disallowed comments that it would not allow construction of a stormwater drainage system along the north side of Glenmore Trail (supporting ASP expansion). The provincial department formally stated it will consider such system.

Other residents have also expressed opposition to expanding the ASP in letters to Rocky View.

“Issues like this should be decided by the people of the community and not (by) the corporations that stand to profit from the matter,” wrote resident Keith Rudolph.

Resident Mya Manion cautioned about the costs to taxpayers of building stormwater management and transportation systems supporting 33,000 new residents.

“It seems that this (expansion) scheme is to benefit the developers and not the community members,” she wrote.

Vince Young, who lives east of Langdon, complained that a note he wrote expressing support for the ASP draft was cut off from a petition-like form letter submitted to the County with 57 signatures.

“When the comment portion of the form was removed, my signature became a positive toward expansion instead of an against as it was intended,” he said. “Therefore, my name is now wrongly on record as being against the draft ASP.”

In a survey conducted by Rocky View, Langdon residents ranked rural setting highest, followed by trails and pathways.

In a survey conducted by Rocky View, Langdon residents ranked rural setting highest, followed by trails and pathways.

 

Young requested that the entire form letter be removed from submissions to Council, “based on a wilful and deliberate attempt to change the results of said petition.”

Area Coun. Rolly Ashdown will be proposing amendments to the ASP, but has not disclosed which changes he will seek.

“I am looking forward to hearing the balance of the information,” said Ashdown in a 26 April email to the County News. “It wouldn’t make sense for me to disclose anything until all of the information is in.”

Council deliberated on the ASP for several hours on March 8 and March 22.

Without being specific, Ashdown said he still has concerns regarding stormwater and transportation.

“I am not one who believes ASP’s are simply a planning document that determines population,” he said. “It should be a guiding document for well thought area growth.”

The Municipal Government Act defines area structure plans as “providing a framework for subsequent subdivision and development of an area of land.”

ASPs must also describe proposed land uses, the sequence of development, population density and major transportation routes and public utilities and “other matters the council considers necessary.”

 

 

More police needed in Springbank–Councillor report

April’s end Report

Coun. Jerry Arshinoff, Div. 2 Springbank

Rocky View County

Police presence needed

Below is the latest email I sent to Council and Senior Administration. It is self-explanatory and will hopefully get serious attention:

“As I have often recently stated in Council and by email, in the last few weeks Springbank has had a long list of car, yard and home break in occurrences and thefts. Additionally some businesses in Commercial Court and around the Springbank Airport have had numerous break in occurrences – that despite many of those same businesses having very recently gone to the expense of security cameras, gates, etc. Just yesterday a business owner told me: “my son had a knife pulled on him and his truck rammed.”

“I am only referring to incidents in the last few weeks and there could very well be far more that have not been brought to my attention. The RCMP are fully aware of the recent significant increase in Springbank crime but they are overstretched as it is. All of the above incidents have been reported to the RCMP. It remains that law enforcement is never seen around here – and I do mean “never”, other than the occasional peace officer giving out a speeding ticket. That is good but we need police officers, not just peace officers, and we need them now.

“If it hasn’t happened yet Springbank will become known as an area where crime is easy to commit due to the lack of enforcement and the lack of police presence and visibility. That means the problem will get worse unless Rocky View does something about it really soon. I do know similar situations exist in other parts of RV. That makes the situation even more urgent.

“The bottom line is that a prerequisite to growth is infrastructure.  Infrastructure includes cops – lots of them.”

Tax Rates 2016

The good news is that on April 26 Council agreed to not increase property tax rates in 2016. I did not expect that and it was a pleasant surprise. As good as this is keep in mind the additional funds will be taken from reserves which I again pointed out aren’t reserves in the manner most people think of the term.  Rather it is essentially borrowed money that we keep separately in order to be able to tell the public Rocky View has savings. The reality is it amounts to collecting 1.25 per cent interest while paying out 2.5 per cent on the loan. I also pointed out that a zero per cent tax increase is good but we did it in the distant 2nd best way (of 2 possible ways) it could have been done. The best way, of course, would be to reduce expenditures.

The bad news is that tax wasn’t decreased. By eliminating just a few questionable expenditures (e.g. new RV offices), the tax rate could have been significantly reduced.

Nevertheless on the whole it is good, certainly better than I expected and to Council’s credit.

Note: The zero per cent increase applies only to property taxes. It excludes school tax. School tax is decided upon by and only by the provincial government. Municipalities must collect school tax and then turn the entire amount over to the province.

Fire Ban in Effect

Please Refer to this link whenever you plan on any burning as fire status can change daily.

Property Assessment Inspections

A Rocky View’s Safe and Sound notice has advised residents that County assessors will conduct full inspection of properties, beginning April until the end of the year, for property tax assessment purposes.

“This work may include measuring buildings, photographing exteriors, and gathering details regarding interior components and use of the property,” the notice said.

After receiving numerous resident inquiries about this notice, I submitted an Emergent Motion for the April 26 Council Meeting. By a 5-4 vote, Council chose to NOT accept it as an agenda item on April 26 or ever.

Council spent over 20 minutes debating whether it should be on the agenda. I pointed out we probably could have accepted it and dealt with it in less time than it took for nonsensical arguments as to why it should not be on Council’s agenda.

Motion: The below notice from Safe and Sound be debated and voted upon by Council today, April 26, 2016. The Notice is in regard to inspections to update property assessments.

Rationale:  It is emergent by virtue of the notice stating inspections begin in April (presumably 2016). This notice was sent and received only 4 days ago. Only 3 days business days remain in April.

Background Information required from Administration:

1) This has not been done, at least not in my area, in the over 30 years I have lived in Rocky View. Why is it to be done now?

2) I have independently verified that such inspections are carried out in other jurisdictions and are perfectly legitimate under the MGA-Chapter 3, page 19.

Nevertheless: why was Council not previously informed?

Why this information has not been posted on the Rocky View website?

Is there a specific reason for such incredibly short notice?

3) Are all areas of Rocky View to be inspected? If not, which ones and how were they selected?

4) What is the estimated cost of these inspections vs the estimated return by virtue of increased taxation?

5) Why can the inspectors not simultaneously collect information for a voters’ list?

Springbank Dam (aka SR1) Information Sessions

Information provided by the Springbank Community Planning Association

Please try to attend one or both of these info sessions to let the Government know the perspective of residents of Springbank.

Springbank Project email: springbank-project@gov.ab.ca

We would like to invite you to join us for a Springbank Off-stream Reservoir Project information session.

Following the Alberta government’s commitment to build the Springbank Off-stream Reservoir as part of the overall provincial flood mitigation strategy, the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) required for the project is now underway.

Public engagement for this project is continuing. Come to an information session to learn more about how this project is progressing and to provide your feedback.

Two information sessions are planned (see below for locations and dates).

Designed as a dry dam, the Springbank Off-stream Reservoir will work in tandem with the Glenmore Reservoir in Calgary. Together, the combined storage capacity would accommodate water volumes equal to the 2013 flood.

We hope to see you there.

For information on the Springbank Off-stream Reservoir Project, please visit this web page.

Springbank                                                                          

Tuesday, May 10

5:00 – 8:00 p.m.

Wild Wild West Event Centre

67 Commercial Court

Exit 169, off of the Trans Canada West

Next to Calaway Park

Calgary

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

5:00 – 8:00 p.m.

First Calgary Church of the Nazarene

65 Richard Way SW

 

Councillor to disclose changes to Langdon ASP at hearing

Proposed changes to a plan for future growth in the Hamlet of Langdon will not be disclosed in advance of a May 10 meeting, the area councillor said.

“I am looking forward to hearing the balance of the information,” Coun. Rolly Ashdown told the County News in an email. “It wouldn’t make sense for me to disclose anything until all of the information is in.”

Rolly Ashdown

Rolly Ashdown

Ashdown said he has “concerns for stormwater and transportation in our area.”

Area residents, however, contend introducing undisclosed, last-minute amendments will prevent the public from having a say on those changes, which Council could incorporate into the plan just before its approval on the same day.

“The end of the process is not the time to change the rules,” said Doug and Dianne White, who live on 20 acres east of Langdon, in a letter to the County. “For a year (residents) laboured in good faith, with Administration…to create a plan which is balanced.”

Such process included a door-to-door survey of over 1,600 houses in the hamlet and surrounding area, after which planners compiled a draft Langdon area structure plan (ASP) that sets the basis for moderate growth during the next 10 to 25 years.

The ASP foresees development over 1,100 acres with capacity for 8,400 additional residents for a total population of 13,000.

The plan received support from developers with land within the proposed boundaries—however, others asked Council to expand the plan area.

Greencor Developments, Langdon Waterworks and Rocky View Utility Corp. have asked Council to expand the ASP to encompass the water provider franchise area—some 5,400 acres with room for about 33,300 new residents.

Weed Lake, a shallow water body just beside Langdon, receives stormwater and treated effluent from the hamlet as well as Conrich and Balzac. Photo: County News archive.

Weed Lake, a shallow water body just beside Langdon, receives stormwater and treated effluent from the hamlet as well as Conrich and Balzac. Photo: County News archive.

 

They argue the larger area would allow for proper stormwater management.

“We request Rocky View County use the Infrastructure Study area as presented…for the new Langdon Area Structure Plan boundary,” noted Peter Loats, principal of Langdon Waterworks, in a letter to the County.

During public hearing discussion, however, Coun. Lois Habberfield said she was ready to approve the ASP with no major changes.

“I haven’t seen anything that would convince me that we should go with the (larger) study area,” she said.

County planners noted they followed the TRC recommendations as well as Council-endorsed ASP Terms of Reference, as well as public input, the County Plan, and several technical reports that included a comprehensive stormwater engineering review.

“The proposed Langdon ASP has been prepared with an engineering technical review which included a number of studies prepared for the area including stormwater, waste water, and transportation. Additional land for expansion of the Hamlet is not required to support stormwater improvements,” they noted in a report to Council.

The Whites said claims that the TCR recommendations support a larger ASP are simply untrue.

“This, at best, is a misreading and mischaracterization of the aforementioned report,” they said in their letter, sent as part of public input to be considered on May 10. “The evidence does not support expansion of the area…to manage storm water.”

Private interests masked as stormwater management needs and presumed recommendations, the Whites noted, could result in lands that were specifically rejected by Administration as undesirable for development being added on.

“It is not unreasonable to arrive at a conclusion that there is something else driving those who make this specious argument,” they wrote.