Opinion: Gravel applications before ARP in place a disservice to residents

By Janet Ballantyne and Samanntha Wright
Rocky View Forward

At its June 13 meeting, Rocky View Council approved delaying the completion of an Aggregate Resource Plan (ARP) that will regulate gravel pits approvals.

That, in itself, is good news since the alternative was ramming the ARP through by September.

Unfortunately, at the same time, Council opened the flood gates for gravel applications to rush through under what they acknowledge are the existing weak performance standards.

Bearspaw residents stage a protest outside an Inland/Lehigh Hanson gravel planning meeting in March 2016. Photo: County News archive.

 

There are at least four new gravel applications coming forward before the fall election – starting with the Summit Aggregate application on June 27, followed closely by two additional applications on July 11. All three of these gravel pits are on Big Hill Springs Road. At this point, the location of the fourth application is unknown.

Both Rocky View Gravel Watch and Rocky View Forward asked to speak to Council as part of its June 13 discussion of the ARP. However, in a 6 – 2 vote, Council refused. Councillors Breakey and Arshinoff were the only ones who supported our request. Councillors Lowther, Kendall, Ashdown, Habberfield, Solberg and Reeve Boehlke were not willing to listen. Councillor Habberfield went so far as to say that it wouldn’t make any difference how long they consult on the issue, the public wouldn’t be happy, and pushed to have the ARP in place by September. This sentiment was echoed by Councillor Lowther.

“There are at least four new gravel applications coming forward before the fall election.” Rocky View Forward

This is a clear example of everything that is wrong with our existing Council. Individuals, who represent hundreds of residents, ask to speak on an issue that has generated more public response than any other policy considered by the County and Council isn’t interested in listening. This wasn’t about saying no, this was about providing additional light on a subject that impacts tens of thousands of residents in Rocky View. It would have been a different matter had Councillors discussed the topics we wanted to present, thereby making our presentations redundant. However, those topics weren’t even on Council’s radar.

Council delayed the ARP’s completion date until after the fall election. With a promised release of the revised draft ARP for later this month, people should have sufficient time to understand and respond to whatever is in the new version.

That’s the good news. The bad news is that Council also accepted Administration’s assumption that, in the interim, they must allow gravel applications to come forward under the existing rules. Councillors Lowther and Kendall were adamant that they would only support delaying the final ARP on the understanding that gravel applications could proceed.

Both Rocky View Forward and Rocky View Gravel Watch support delaying approval of the ARP. Rushing it through without proper consultation would be completely inappropriate. Contrary to Administration’s assertion that it should be “business as usual” for interim gravel applications, there are alternatives that Council should have considered.

“Council isn’t interested in listening.” Rocky View Forward

One of the options we wanted to present was a moratorium on gravel applications until the ARP is finalized. Many residents contacted us asking why the County cannot have a moratorium on gravel applications until the ARP is finalized. The answer is that they can, but Council would have to approve one. Given that Councillors Lowther and Kendall were both adamant that gravel applications must be heard and that any applications that are approved in the interim are only subject to existing policy with the possibility of being exempted from the ARP’s rules, it is obvious that a moratorium would not have been supported.

Another option was to parallel the approach used for income tax changes – allow transactions to seek approval now under existing rules, but require them to comply with the new rules once they are in place. This approach would let Council address gravel companies’ desires to have their applications heard on a timely basis without stacking the deck against residents by allowing gravel companies to evade the stricter standards that everyone knows will be part of the ARP – standards that are so important to the health and safety of County residents. Again, through Lowther and Kendall’s statements it can only be assumed the majority on Council wasn’t interested – their minds were already made up.

The majority on Council has clearly indicated that if they have to pick sides between gravel companies and County residents, the residents lose. Hopefully, greater sanity will prevail when the specific gravel applications come before Council. In order for this to occur, residents must contact their Councillors and let them know that they don’t believe these pits should be exempted from the ARP regulations.

Potential good news on Springbank reservoir project

Councillor Arshinoff’s report to residents

By Jerry Arshinoff
Councillor, Div. 2 Springbank

1) Springbank Air Show (Wings Over Springbank)

The show will be held at the Springbank Airport on Saturday, July 29 and Sunday, July 30. Practice will be held on Friday, July 28.

There will be considerably more parking and traffic enforcement, bylaw officers, etc than when it was last held 2 years ago.

More information will be forthcoming as we get closer to the date.

Due to Harmony’s expansion this will probably be the last SB Airshow. I am sorry for not having notified you previously but I was only informed of it very recently.

 

2) Good News re Springbank Reservoir (potentially)

The Calgary Herald has reported a court ruling favourable to Springbank landowners opposed to the project.

Congratulations and thank you to the landowners and  dontdamnspringbank.org. for their stanch persistence in incessantly opposing the SR1 project.

​ .

3) Volunteer Needed for Sr Lady in Springbank

From: Helping Hands Info [mailto:info@helpinghandscochrane.ca]
Sent: Thursday, June 15, 2017 5:13 PM
To: undisclosed-recipients:
Subject: Friendly visitor request for Springbank

Hello Helping Hands Contacts,

Would you please consider if you or someone you might know would be interested in visiting  a senior lady in Springbank?

She lives with family but does not drive. She would greatly benefit from having someone new come and visit for tea and conversation once every week or two.

She would love to perfect her English (it is already quite good) or learn more about her ipad.

This would help greatly in improving her quality of life.

Please feel free to have any interested volunteers contact me by phone or email.

Thank you for your consideration,

Jackie Shier
Executive Director
Helping Hands Society of Cochrane & Area
Telephone 587-580-9448

Office hours Tuesdays, Wednesdays & Thursdays at Cochrane FCSS

Opinion: Farmers and ranchers beware

By Laura Starosta
East Rocky View

(Editor’s note): Laura Starosta, a member of a third-generation farming family, has an operation east of Dalroy (East Rocky View County).

Spring is upon us and the water run-off is on. I am wondering if all Agricultural producers within Rocky View County (RVC) are aware that the County believes Agricultural land is at their disposal to be used as a water dumping ground.

If you have a water runway through your property, RVC will send as much water as they want through it. It does not matter if that runway is historically only six or ten feet wide. They will turn it into a 180-foot-wide river.

Not only will they do this. They will do it without apology, and tell you it is your water and your problem.

I won’t get into the gory details of RVC’s negligence in the situation, but I will say that if we are the stewards of the land, they are definitely our opposition.

It is surprising considering that in the spring of 2014 the County wrote propaganda promoting themselves as “a community where agriculture is valued and respected”. I am not sure if in those three years it is the value or the respect that agriculture has lost – but I would have to say that even in 2014 I saw neither when it came to our land.

The lack of respect our land has been given by RVC over the past decade is appalling. Our farm, a third generation farm, almost at the hundred year mark, is systematically being turned into a slough.

“Our farm is systematically being turned into a slough.” Laura Starosta

Of course RVC conveniently tells us our farm is a wetland and always has been. This is news to those that were born and raised on it some ninety years ago, and those that have farmed it for those years. Now not just our pasture and cropland is a wetland but the actual farm site, buildings and all.

I am continuously surprised by the lack of common sense associated with the situation. If the people that have been farming the land for decades tell you how the water flowed, why do you have people that have never been on the land telling you that you are wrong?

I know most of you at this point will be saying “they can’t do that.” But fact is, they are. And we know we are not alone in this situation. We know there are others that face the same adversity but perhaps by letting people know we are in the same boat, literally, and warning others to beware, RVC might open their eyes to the fact that Agriculture producers won’t stand by and let good Alberta farmland be ruined.

Obviously as land owners we know that water needs to move through our land but agriculture land cannot be used as a substitute for infrastructure or a drainage system for new developments.

Farmland cannot be saturated with copious amounts of water and still remain productive. People need to understand this and voice their concerns. After all Agricultural land is where our food comes from.

Or has that been forgotten?

Opinion: Rocky View road levy unfair to small developers

By Jerry Arshinoff
Rocky View Councillor, Div. 2 Springbank

A transportation offsite levy (TOL) that Rocky View charges when land is subdivided weighs heavily on small developers while treating large developers with kid gloves.

Even landowners who are not planning to develop will be affected as transportation infrastructure costs will have be borne through significantly higher taxation.

For most Rocky View residents, the TOL in its current form has been “under the radar.” If it stays that way it will be too late.

The TOL is a levy by which all developers, big or small, contribute to the construction of new or expanded roads as the population grows​ and the number of businesses increase.

The colossal unfairness of the TOL is that small developers are burdened with enormous fees while large developments get a fantastic break. The reason is, the TOL is charged on a per-acre instead of a per-residence basis.

For example, Harmony will be charged $800,000 to build 150 to 225 homes on 50 acres as part of its phase 2.

By comparison, a Springbank resident creating one additional four-acre lot and one house out of an eight, nine or 10-acre parcel will be charged a $160,000 TOL – despite creating little additional traffic.

Five residents doing the same would collectively be charged $800,000 for bringing five new homes on 50 acres – the same amount Harmony is charged to create between 150 and 225 homes on their 50 acres.

The $160,000 charged to the 10-acre owner who creates one additional home is also approximately twice as much as another developer is to be charged to build 50 homes on 20 acres in Elbow Valley.

A developer in Springbank who creates a 10-acre shopping centre will be charged the same TOL as an individual who sells four of his 10 acres to create a single additional residence.

Bottom line: the “little guy” with 10 acres is subsidizing the transportation needs created by large developments.

Even if ​you​ have no intention of ever subdividing, should you still care? Yes! Because if not enough “little guys” step forward to pay this astronomical fees, those transportation needs will be paid by increasing your taxes.

Is there a solution to this unfair levy? Absolutely. Rocky View’s transportation levy should be based on the amount of additional vehicular traffic created – as is done in other municipalities.

The potential good news is that the TOL will be reviewed – but the bad news is that ​so ​far Rocky View has refused to consider calculating the levy amount on a per-residence basis instead of per acre.

​Individual Springbank and Balzac residents are being gouged worse than anyone else in Rocky View, but the situation is not unique to Springbank and Balzac.

All Rocky View taxpayers are subsidizing transportation infrastructure in Balzac and the same will happen in areas such as Langdon, Conrich (including the Omni area plan), Cochrane Lake or Bearspaw.

There will be Open Houses to present the proposed new TOL.

Such Open Houses , previously scheduled to take place ​in​ ​September, 2016​ keep getting postponed. Dates and places have not been announced by Rocky View.

Opinion: Glenbow Ranch plan offers little rewards

By Enrique Massot
The County News

The governance principle of municipal governments rests on the idea that a majority of members of a council will, most of the time, come up with the best possible decisions.

In Rocky View County, however, councillors elected with developers’ help appear to care little about the public good and may consider private interests when making decisions.

Consider a recent decision by seven out of nine County councillors to grant first reading to the Glenbow Ranch Area Structure Plan (ASP) – a decision that will likely be followed by final approval on June 27.

The plan proposes to convert thousands of acres of grazing land into residential development for over 15,000 new residents, adjacent to the Glenbow Ranch Provincial Park.

This population, equivalent to that of a large town or a small city, will in fact be one of the worst examples of mindless sprawl. It will become a car-dependent bedroom community that will require several traffic lights, significantly slowing down Highway 1A traffic.

Calgary and Chestermere’s recent opposition to the Conrich area structure plan in east Rocky View cost County taxpayers $500,000. Given that both Calgary and Cochrane unsuccessfully asked council to allow for more discussion on the Glenbow Ranch plan, its approval may prompt more litigation expenses.

Other than the risk of having to spend half a million dollars to allow private landowners to make a profit, would the Glenbow Ranch ASP benefit Rocky View?

Little in the best of cases. At worst, it may become a financial sinkhole. According to the staff report contained on the April 25 agenda, a Fiscal Impact Analysis (FIA) was conducted to determine whether Glenbow Ranch would represent a net benefit.

The alluring landscape of Glenbow Ranch Provincial Park and adjacent ranching lands is also a fragile environment. Photo: Enrique Massot

 

“Overall, the FIA showed a small positive impact on the County’s future tax rates,” read the report to council.

Surprisingly, the actual FIA wasn’t available on April 25 – neither to the public nor to council members.

On the same day, Rocky View spokesperson Grant Kaiser told the County News that the FIA could not be released as it was being reviewed in relation to the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act.

“Once that review is completed, we will release whatever information we can under FOIP provisions,” he noted.

In spite of that, seven councillors were content to support first reading, simply based on the “small positive impact” statement.

They also were willing to approve the plan when adding such a large residential population runs counter the official goal of increasing the County’s non-residential tax component.

The FIA, as reported by staff, determined that the Glenbow Ranch ASP would prevent the County from reaching the goal, stated in Policy C-197, of increasing the non-residential component to 35 per cent by 2035.

“The County is committed to continued assessment base diversification…through careful consideration of development applications,” the policy reads.

Instead, the non-residential component will be at 29 per cent should the Glenbow Ranch plan receive final approval.

“This ratio…diminishes the financial advantage of increased non-residential assessment,” wrote County planners in their April 25 report to council.

Add the County’s financial risks of eventually becoming the owner of costly and complex water, sewer and stormwater infrastructure built by developers – any shortcomings then become responsibility of the public purse, as Cochrane Lake residents found out a few years ago.

Little rewards and many risks in exchange for allowing perfectly functional ranch land to turn into sprawling residential.

Opinion: Rocky View’s ‘victory’ costly to taxpayers – Part II

(Editor’s note): In this second-part analysis, Janet Ballantyne of the resident group Rocky View Forward goes into further detail on how Rocky View’s so-called ‘clear victory’ over a City of Chestemere appeal against the Conrich area structure plan may end up being a costly venture.

By Janet Ballantyne
Rocky View Forward

It is clear to anyone who has read the Municipal Government Board’s (MGB) decision on Calgary and Chestermere’s appeals of the Conrich ASP that development costs in the area will be substantially higher now than would have been anticipated by either the County or prospective developers when the ASP was drafted.

The question is: who will pay for those increased costs – existing residents or developers?

The MGB decision increases costs with respect to transportation and storm water management. This means the County will have to pay for its incremental impact on Calgary roads. In addition, any new development will have to bear the costs of onerous storm water management practices until a regional system is in place, a significant concern given the Conrich area is prone to flooding. The hope is that this will push Rocky View to address the regional storm water management needs in the area. However, negotiations for a regional solution have been ongoing for the past five years, with no apparent end in sight.

Rocky View’s share of this regional storm water management system is currently estimated at $50 million. Based on the County’s track record, there is a significant risk that residents will be saddled with this $50 million. In the mid 2000s, the County fronted the $135 million cost of the east RV water/waste water system. The County promised that developers would pay the full investment back within very short order. Now, more than a decade later, over $90 million still needs to be collected from developers. Since levies are proving to be insufficient, $1 million a year is being taken out of the Tax Stabilization Reserves to pay down the long-term debt. As well, because the promised development has not materialized, County taxpayers continue to subsidize the system’s annual operating costs by more than an additional million dollars a year.

The initial levy rates for the water/waste water infrastructure were absurdly low. As a result, the initial wave of development in the area paid nowhere near its fair share of the costs. The Horizon Mall is a perfect example of this. Under the old levy structure, it would have paid just $138,000. Under the revised system, it should have paid $4 million. Thanks to a motion sponsored by Councillor Habberfield, its developer received Council’s approval to reduce its obligation to $1.5 million – leaving taxpayers on the hook for the other $2.5 million.

An access road had to be reconstructed at higher level in Conrich near high-density development. Photo: County News archive

 

There is no evidence that the County will do anything different in Conrich. Most likely, the County will once again front the cost and promise that storm water levies on future development will pay back the investment. One can only hope that their promises will be more realistic this time around. This isn’t about debt leveraging as some would like us to believe. The real problem is the County’s demonstrated lack of ability to recoup those costs from the developments that make the expenditures necessary.

Until a regional storm water management system is in place, the MGB decision imposes a significant unanticipated cost on all new development in Conrich – zero storm water discharge. While zero-discharge may not be a new concept elsewhere, it is new to Rocky View. Given that the Conrich area is rampant with flooding issues, it may be problematic. Zero-discharge means that for every square foot of impermeable surface (buildings, roads, driveways, parking lots, etc.), the developer must build storm water ponds with the equivalent surface area. In contrast, the County’s improved storm water management standards require only that post-development runoff volumes do not exceed pre-development volumes. This is significantly less onerous than zero runoff volumes.

The increased transportation costs for new Conrich development result from the MGB mandating that the County pays its share of upgrades to Calgary’s transportation infrastructure. In the past Rocky View has not paid any costs for Calgary road upgrades attributable to development in the County. The infrastructure costs are for Calgary’s road network that feeds onto the Ring Road, as well as for other Calgary roads that will be stressed by usage from development in Conrich.

“More than a decade later, over $90 million still needs to be collected.” Janet Ballantyne

The cost of these road upgrades has not been determined, but it will likely end up being tens of millions of dollars. Hopefully, the County will get its Transportation Off-site Levies restructured to effectively collect these costs from developers. If they do, this will be a significant incremental cost not anticipated by prospective developers. If they don’t, it will be yet another cost borne by local residents.

In terms of whether Rocky View is or is not being a good neighbour, here is some background. In 2004, before the County sunk $135 million into the east RV water/waste water infrastructure, Calgary offered to extend servicing to the Balzac area for $30 million as part of the annexation negotiations that were then underway. Rocky View did not respond to the offer. Contrary to the accepted “story line”, the City didn’t start from a position of holding back servicing from Rocky View. Calgary only started to be uncooperative after their attempts at collaboration were rebuffed.

More recently, the County demonstrated their unneighbourly behaviour with the Glenbow Ranch ASP where both Calgary and Cochrane asked for a delay so they could resolve their concerns, yet the County forged ahead. Even ignoring all of this and focusing only on the topic at hand – the Conrich ASP, how can the County be portrayed as a good neighbour when it ignored Calgary’s repeated requests for mediation until it was backed into a corner?

The existing Intermunicipal Development Plan between Rocky View and Calgary is intended to encourage neighbourly behaviour by providing a framework to avoid conflict over development near municipal borders. The fact that Calgary used inconsistencies between it and the Conrich ASP in its successful arguments against the ASP provides further evidence of Rocky View’s failings as a good neighbour.

In closing, this analysis leads to the conclusion that the current Council will likely support fronting the storm water infrastructure costs with no credible plan to ensure that the costs are repaid by the related development. Having sat through innumerable Council meetings, it can safely be stated that whenever Council discusses off-site infrastructure investments needed to support development, the majority clearly favour having the County front the costs with the expectation that those costs will then be recouped through future levies. Therefore, stating that the current Council is likely to continue its past practices and preferences is not fear mongering, it is recognizing reality.

Opinion: Rocky View’s ‘clear victory’ costly to taxpayers

By Rocky View Forward

On May 10, 2017, the Municipal Government Board (MGB) issued its rulings on Calgary and Chestermere’s appeals of Rocky View’s Conrich area structure plan (ASP). 

If you read Rocky View’s press release, it appears that the MGB’s decision was a complete vindication of Rocky View’s behaviour with respect to the Conrich ASP.  Nothing could be further from reality.

The County has been in a battle with our two neighbours over the Conrich ASP for the better part of two years. To date, this battle has cost the County well over a half a million dollars in legal fees. The crux of the complaints filed by both Calgary and Chestermere were Conrich’s potential negative impact on traffic, storm water management, and competition for commercial and industrial development. 

Throughout the process Rocky View has maintained that it is a good neighbour and it is Calgary and Chestermere who have been the aggressors. In usual Rocky View fashion, it believes that it has done nothing wrong and Conrich is yet another shining example of the brilliant planning in Rocky View. The County actually appears to believe that its neighbours’ complaints were founded on jealousy and fears of competition rather than on sound planning concerns.  

It is true that the MGB dismissed Chestermere’s appeal as having failed to demonstrate that the Conrich ASP would be detrimental to Chestermere.  However, that does not mean that potential negative impacts do not exist.  Instead, in the duel between competing consultants and expert witnesses, which took place in the MGB’s quasi-judicial venue, Chestermere’s experts were simply not as persuasive. 

“This battle has cost the County well over a half a million dollars.” Rocky View Forward

As a result, the MGB advised Rocky View and Chestermere to resolve their differences through their existing intra-municipal protocols and agreements. Not quite the win claimed by Reeve Boehlke when he stated that the “MGB ruling is a clear victory for the County.” Nor the ability to forge ahead as expeditiously as Councillor Solberg claimed “after years of planning and consultation, everyone is excited to finally be able to move forward.” 

The County’s press release conveniently glosses over the mediated settlement it reached with Calgary, the terms of which the MGB imposed as resolution of Calgary’s appeal.  In that settlement, Rocky View acknowledged that the Conrich ASP, as approved by Council, was detrimental to Calgary. In addressing these impacts, the terms of the mediated settlement impose substantial hurdles for any development in the area.  

For example, Rocky View must acknowledge that the Conrich ASP will impose significant costs on Calgary’s transportation infrastructure.  Rocky View will be required to work with Calgary to plan needed transportation upgrades and to pay its share of the costs of those upgrades before any development can proceed.

More importantly, Rocky View had to agree to zero storm water discharge from any development in Conrich that proceeds before a regional storm water management system has been agreed to and implemented. (Inter-municipal negotiations to develop a regional system have been ongoing for the past five years and, at latest count, will cost the County at least $50 million).  Zero discharge means that every drop of rain that falls on a newly developed property in Conrich has to stay on that property. Given that in 2015, Rocky View County paid over $500,000 to pump an over-flooding pond in Conrich, this is beyond an onerous solution. Not exactly in keeping with the County’s claim that it “was a mediated agreement that successfully meets the needs of both municipalities.”

Rocky View’s chastisement of Chestermere for being a bad neighbour reeks of hypocrisy.  Calgary formally requested mediation twice to resolve its concerns with the Conrich ASP before Rocky View approved the ASP. Rocky View only bothered to respond and agree to mediation with Calgary when it was faced with the alternative of a full MGB hearing that might have thrown out the entire Conrich ASP.  A good neighbour would not have brought forward a development proposal that was so strongly opposed by its immediate neighbours and would certainly have not ignored requests to settle their differences at earlier stages.

It is difficult to understand Rocky View’s positioning that development in Conrich can now proceed as they had always intended it to do. The conditions imposed by the MGB mean that any new development in the area will have to bear significantly higher costs than either developers or the County would have ever anticipated. Costs that will no doubt be fronted by existing residents if this Council is re-elected in October.

To view the County’s press release, click here.

Council turns down Harmony-neighbours mediation

Resident update May 20

By Jerry Arshinoff
Div. 2 Councillor, Rocky View County

​Harmony and adjacent neighbours

Over the last 2 years some serious disputes have arisen between Harmony and various adjacent neighbours. Most such disputes remain unresolved.

At the May 9 Council meeting I asked Council to arrange for a meeting between Harmony and three representatives of those neighbours with Rocky View administration acting as mediator. While the results of such mediation would be non-binding, there was the real hope that at least some mutually agreeable resolutions could be achieved in a matter of just a few short weeks.

Potentially, much could be gained with absolutely nothing to lose.

My motion was defeated by a 7-1 vote with no reasons whatsoever given by any of the seven councillors.

I don’t want to sound cynical but I can say Council did show “fairness” – now everybody loses.

Potential Springbank Dam

Item D-1. At the forthcoming Council meeting (Tuesday, May 23) will deal with a potential budget adjustment of $200,000 related to a proposed dry dam and reservoir (SR1) to be built in Springbank. 

The funds are proposed to be used “To complete a technical review of the Provincial Environmental Impact Assessment, for submission to the Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency (CEAA), and Natural Resources Conservation Board (NRCB) hearing.”

This is not a public hearing but usually (not always) Council allows members of the public to speak if they so request.

More details can be found on page 63 of the Council’s meeting agenda.

Possible Postponement of the Springbank Area Structure Plan

Item D-3 on Council’s May 23 agenda is in regards to “revised timelines” for the Springbank ASP currently scheduled for completion in early 2018.

The intention is to delay the ASP  until all aspects of the provincially mandated GMB (Growth Management Board) are known.

The GMB is expected to be approved by the province in the fall of 2017. Basically the idea is to ensure the SB ASP does not conflict with the GMB and thereby have to be redone.

Details can be found on page 66 of Council’s meeting agenda.

Springbank Park for All Seasons (SPFAS) Annual Fall Fair

The Fair will be on September 9 at SPFAS.

More information will be forthcoming as the date approaches. If you are new to the area or otherwise have not previously attended the Fall Fair you should reserve the date. It really is a highlight of the year with interesting displays, contests and activities for all ages.

​Sponsorship Opportunities for the Annual Fall Fair 

Please click on 2017 Fall Fair Sponsorship Opportunity

SPFAS Casino

Springbank Park for All Seasons casino will be on Saturday, August 5 and Sunday August 6 (August long weekend).

SPFAS requires about 40 people to fill or provide back up support for all required casino volunteer positions. The casino is projected to generate about $70,000 for SPFAS.

The following attachment is a mandatory Volunteer Application Form. Click on Casino Application

All such forms and/or inquiries should be directed to John Rop, SPFAS General Manager  jrop@springbankpark.com  403- 618- 5136

Drive Carefully

There have been reports of moose in the Springbank area, specifically in parts of Springbank where moose are rarely seen. This includes moose on the road.

 

 

 

East Rocky View development plan concerns resident

By Enrique Massot
The County News

An east Rocky View resident is concerned by a plan that could allow for the development of a large industrial and commercial area north of Conrich.

“Rocky View is destroying the way of life we built over so many years,” said John Morgan. “They are developing what we consider to be reasonably good agricultural land.”

Morgan provided written feedback and shared his OMNI ASP Response  with the County News.

The Omni area structure plan (ASP), expected to be completed in June, would set eight quarter sections just east of Calgary for highway commercial, industrial and office development.

Morgan recently missed an open house about the plan.

“I haven’t seen any advertising,” he said. “Delrich Meadow neighbours saw nothing.”

He later learned from County staff that only residents in the immediate vicinity of the plan had been directly notified of the open house.

County Communications Manager Grant Kaiser could not answer questions from the County News about the plan, but provided the following information:

“We are at the information gathering stage for the plan’s direction,” Kaiser wrote on March 20. “It is the plan itself that will address opportunities and potential challenges, and the next phase of its development…will occur over the summer and early fall.”

The County News full set of questions and the County’s complete answer can be checked at Omni ASP Q&A

The ASP is located north of the Conrich ASP, which encompasses 10,800 acres. This plan was approved by Rocky View in 2015 but is currently on hold while an appeal by the City of Chestermere is considered.

The development proposed in both plans will require upgrades of the Langdon Wastewater Treatment Plant, which is approaching capacity.

County borrowing has been considered among potential financing sources for the upgrades.

However, the resident advocacy group Rocky View Forward was critical of previous expenses for over $130 million to build water and sewer infrastructure in east Rocky View, of which $50-million, remains unpaid after a decade.

“From Rocky View Forward’s perspective, this suggests that the County has not demonstrated a solid ability to repay the cost of the existing infrastructure,” wrote Janet Ballantyne last December.

In addition, any significant development in the area will require the construction of a regional drainage system of unknown cost.

“If you look at the land, it’s full of small sloughs,” said Morgan. “They will have to find a place to the south, where there is the Conrich ASP.”

Morgan contends the County rushes development without appropriate infrastructure such as roads and drainage.

“Prove you can do it properly somewhere else and I will support it,” he said.

Instead, Morgan said, bad examples abound.

“Look at 84th Street south of 17th Avenue,” he said. “Trucks up to their axes in water.”

“They talk about dark skies, but look at the CN yard lights,” he said in reference to the Calgary Logistics Park, a large intermodal railway terminal that disrupted life for residential neighbours in the Conrich area with heavy traffic, noise and 24-hour intense lighting.

The Omni plan is being prepared under a new provision that allows developers—in this case Genesis Land Development Corporation, which controls over 600 acres within the plan area—to pay the County for the cost of the ASP.

“The development of this ASP will…accommodate future business development to increase the non-residential tax base of Rocky View,” state council-approved terms of reference.

Morgan said those considerations do not justify disrupting the life of those who already live in the County.

“Rocky View has been doing this across the County with no consideration for the neighbours,” he said.

Kaiser said interested residents can look for information on how participate and express concerns about the Omni Area Structure Plan in Rocky View’s website.

 

 

 

Firefighters ready to assist candidates as scrutineers

By Enrique Massot
The County News

A group of Rocky View County firefighters were ready to work as scrutineers, after spending last Sunday learning the ins and outs of the role.

Jeff Salkeld, president of the Rocky View County Firefighters’ Association, said the 35 firefighters who attended will be offering their services as scrutineers to any candidate in the Oct. 16 municipal election.

“We want to help all candidates and residents of Rocky View County with a fair, transparent and democratic election,” he said.

The initiative is a first in Rocky View County.

Gerard Lucyshyn, an Economics lecturer at Mount Royal University, presented the topic and said candidates often don’t give the role of scrutineers during an election the importance they deserve.

“It’s a resource extremely underutilized,” he said.

Scrutineers observe the proceedings on behalf of the candidate they represent, and have the ability of objecting to irregularities.

However, he added, “you are not there to argue or to fight—instead, you observe, record and report.”

Rocky View firefighters and residents at a Balzac Hall Scrutineer School April 30. Photo: Enrique Massot

 

Lucyshyn said firefighters are well positioned to work as scrutineers.

“Firefighters are well respected and know more than most of us, including locations,” he said. “Elections are a tense situation, and you folks are trained to remain calm on much higher tension situations.”

Janet Ballantyne of the resident advocacy group Rocky View Forward, former councillors Kim Magnuson and Gordon Branson as well as other residents also attended the free, open session.

Scrutineers need to be present at polling stations shortly before they open, so that they can verify that ballot boxes are empty before they are sealed.

“Once a ballot box is sealed, it never gets unsealed,” said Lucyshyn.

Lecturer Gerard Lucyshyn presented information for scrutineers on April 30. Photo: Enrique Massot

 

During the vote, scrutineers must ‘scrutinize’ voters. In Rocky View there is no voters’ list, therefore it’s important to check addresses to ensure voters do reside within the division where they vote.

If they suspect any irregularity, scrutineers are entitled to object the vote, and their objection must be recorded by the Deputy Returning Officer, who is the top authority at the polling station.

“Objecting is not a slight on a voter,” said Lucyshyn. “The deputy must file the objection.”

Objections are recorded in Form 12, also known as Note of Objection to a Ballot, and the objection is assigned a number that is noted on the back of the ballot being objected, with the ballot being initialed by the deputy.

If the deputy refuses to file an objection, the scrutineer should notify the candidate, who may file a complaint with the Returning Officer.

The deputy’s decisions prevail unless they are overturned later by the Returning Officer or a judge.

If an election is contested and the courts intervene, those who voted knowing they were not qualified—for example, residing out of the division—may be fined up to $10,000 or be imprisoned by six months, or both.

Jeff Salkeld, president of the Rocky View County Firefighters Association speaks at the April 30 Scrutineer School. Photo: Enrique Massot

 

Examples of electoral manipulation, Lucyshyn said, include vote buying, carousel voting (busing voters from polling station to polling station) multiple voting (the same elector voting at advance poll and again on election day) voter impersonation, misuse of proxy votes, and destruction or invalidation of ballots.

In a case in another jurisdiction, Lucyshyn said, a worker was counting ballots with a pen in hand.

“It does not take much – just the stroke of a pen to render a ballot invalid,” he said.

However, Lucyshyn noted, fraud is not widespread.

He showed that in Rocky View, a case of improper procedures happened back in 1986. At that time, a judge declared a Div. 4 result invalid because polling clerks were improperly trained, electors were not told to read the declaration of eligibility, and untraceable addresses had been recorded.

Salkeld said a refresher course may be held after the Sept. 18 candidates’ Nomination Day.

More information for candidates can be found at the Rocky View official website.