What matters in Rocky View County and Region Sunday, 24 July 2016 - 14:18

Rocky View holds open house on road levy

Update to Residents

By Jerry Arshinoff
Rocky View councillor-Div. 2 Springbank

July 28 Open House:
Transportation Offsite Levy

 Taking place Thursday, July 28, from 3 p.m. to 7 p.m. at Rocky View County administrative building.

What is the Transportation Offsite Levy (TOL)?

Is an important levy, imposed on anyone who subdivides land.

The money raised through this levy is intended for transportation improvement due to increased traffic.

I am in agreement with the concept. However, there is a problem in the manner of who is charged and how much.

How the TOL may affect Springbank landowners?

The TOL is not an across-the-board fee, and those subdividing in Springbank are charged an exceptionally high amount.

Anyone who owns 5 to 10 acres and wishes to create a 2 to 4-acre lot for one additional home will be charged $150,000 to $200,000 – just for transportation. This is on top of all other fees and subdivision expenses.

Why is the TOL needed?

In my assessment, funds collected through the TOL will be used to pay for future roads, bridges and interchanges needed because of large population—and traffic—increases resulting from large developments. Small traffic increases resulting from modest subdivision would not require such costly infrastructure improvements.

Check the information available in Rocky View website to see whether you agree or not with my assessment.

I especially encourage those who may be affected to attend the July 28 open house and voice any concerns.

Why an Open House in Summer?

Holding an Open House on a Thursday just before a long weekend in the middle of summer virtually guarantees poor attendance and may be a waste of Rocky View staff time.

I have asked that another Open House be held after summer – in September or October – however I don’t know if my request will be agreed to. You should therefore assume this Thursday will be your only chance so please try to attend.

If you cannot attend please be sure to send your comments to apare@rockyview.ca,

I would appreciate it if you would send me a CC of any such comments.

_______________________________________________________

Letter on proposed Springbank Dry Dam

On Monday July 25, Rocky View will be submitting another letter to the Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency detailing concerns, recommendations and alternatives.

The letter has not yet been finalized, but I expect the final text will be acceptable to Rocky View residents.

_______________________________________________________

Motion to ensure event cleanup

I have brought a Notice of Motion (NOM) to Council regarding cycling events in Rocky View. My motion asks for a bylaw by which event organizers would make a deposit ensuring the route is appropriately cleaned of garbage after the event. If it’s not, the deposit would be forfeited. Occasionally, clean up has not been done, resulting in residents living along the route having to do it. My motion also requests that events be notified well in advance.

This motion will be debated in Council this Tuesday, July 26.

In the event the motion is approved, it will not be in force immediately—possibly not until next summer.

_______________________________________________________

Ride to Conquer Cancer Aug. 6 and 7

The  Alberta Cancer Association will be hosting the 2016 Ride to Conquer Cancer Tour from August 6 to August 7
Location: Springbank Rd and Rge Rd 31 within Rocky View County (see map below).
Estimated Timeframe: August 7 between 7 a.m. to 8 p.m.
Description: Alberta Cancer Association will be hosting the 2016 Ride to Conquer Cancer Tour. The tour will start in Okotoks and finish at Canada Olympic Park in the City of Calgary, with part of the tour route within the Springbank area. Proper signage, message boards, flaggers and marshals will be present along the race route throughout the event. Please respect all posted signage and watch for event participants. Inquiries can be directed to Aryn Guthrie (Event Manager) at 403-775-4680 or aguthrie@conquercancer.ca

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Consultant’s industry membership raises red flags: residents

A Bearspaw resident says a consultant’s close relationship to the industry may taint a process for policy on gravel extraction in Rocky View County.

Bearspaw resident Mike Edwards says learning that a consultant hired by Rocky View County to help prepare the policy is listed as member of a gravel producers’ organization was concerning.

“It is totally inappropriate given that all gravel associations are lobby groups with the goal of enhancing the well-being of the industry,” he said. “It is like inviting the fox to live, and dine, in your hen house.”

Golder Associates is listed as member of the Alberta Sand and Gravel Association (ASGA), as well as similar organizations in Ontario and British Columbia.

About 80 residents attended a meeting on gravel extraction in Bearspaw on June 15. Photo: Enrique Massot

About 80 residents attended a meeting on gravel extraction in Bearspaw on June 15. Photo: Enrique Massot

 

Edwards, a veteran of previous mobilizations against gravel pits in the community, says key part of the gravel policy will be separation between extraction operation and residential areas.

That way, he added, “gravel pits will know where they can go and the people will know where they cannot come.”

As a result, learning about a closed-door meeting held July 22 between the County, Golder and industry representatives was concerning, Edwards said.

Citizens found out and inquired if they could attend but were told it was a private meeting,” said Edwards, who speaks for the Bearspaw Residents group. “We had hoped out municipal government would be open, honest and transparent.”

The Bearspaw Residents group informs through a Facebook page.

“Gravel pits will know where they can go and the people will know where they cannot come” -Mike Edwards

On July 17, Edwards filed a FOIP request for information with the County, asking that a recording of the July 22 meeting as well as all correspondance regarding the meeting be provided.

Retired litigation lawyer Bill Corbett questions how fair is for the County to ask for resident input and then privately meet with industry representatives in the dog days of summer.

“It’s so far a very questionable process,” he said,

Corbett said Golder’s membership in the ASGA is a red flag that cannot be underestimated.

“The reason for membership on these associations is to create contracts, generate business,” he said. “Residents have expressed concerns about buffer zones and I do not think they are going to say a two-mile buffer zone is appropriate.”

“They would never get another contract.”

Edwards said in 1994 County planners recommended against approval of an application in Bearspaw for a 320-acre gravel pit, because too many residents lived nearby. In 2010, after over 200 new lots received approval, planners recommended approval of an even larger gravel operation.

“That operation would have been the second largest in all of Canada at the time, involving the equivalent of 500 tandem truck trips each way each day,” said Edwards.

Rocky View County, Golder Associates and Div. 8 Coun. Eric Lowther did not answer County News questions on Friday.

Closed-door meeting on gravel concerns residents

In June, Rocky View County held public meetings to gather input prior to preparing a policy on gravel extraction.

Residents and gravel industry representatives attended the meetings, which were facilitated by Golder Associates, a consulting firm hired by the County.

On July 22, the County will held another meeting, also on the topic of gravel—only this time it will be held behind closed doors.

Only County staff, gravel industry representatives, and Golder Associates are invited.

Golder Associates consultant Kevin Seel speaks at Bearspaw on June 15. Photo: Enrique Massot

Golder Associates consultant Kevin Seel speaks at Bearspaw on June 15. Photo: Enrique Massot

 

Bearspaw resident Mike Edwards, who has been vocal regarding plans to open gravel pits in his area since the early 1990s, was flabbergasted when finding out about the meeting.

“This private meeting was announced on the Alberta Sand and Gravel Association website but not on the Rocky View website,” he said.

County Communications Manager Grant Kaiser confirmed the July 23 meeting will be “only be between the County, industry representatives, and the consultant.”

However, Kaiser said, all feedback provided at the meeting will be typed and made available online within two weeks.

About 80 residents attended an open house on future gravel extraction policy in Rocky View County. Photo: Enrique Massot

About 80 residents attended an open house on future gravel extraction policy in Rocky View County. Photo: Enrique Massot

 

“Yes, they will repackage the information and then make it available,” said Edwards, adding citizens’ participation would be the right thing to do.

“Rocky View citizens were required to attend open public meetings only,” he added.

Bill Corbett, also from Bearspaw, said the closed-door meeting is inconsistent with the notion of balanced and open process.

“We residents and representatives from the gravel industry attended public meetings,” he said. “But we have been precluded from attending this one.”

Corbett, who is a retired litigation lawyer, also said transparency is lacking when a meeting is held with a selected audience without a clear reason.

“It’s not a very balanced process,” he said. “It’s very questionable.”

The meeting, originally set to be held at the County building, but it was later moved to Golder and Associates offices.

“It was moved out of Council Chambers since Council’s space is more about presentations than meetings,” Kaiser told The County News. “Our external consultant on the project has a larger space more suitable.”

About 80 persons, including nine industry representatives, attended the largest of four public meetings on gravel, held June 15 in Bearspaw.

Among topics, the inclusion of potential buffer zones between residential areas and gravel pits that could be 0.5 to one kilometre wide was presented by the consultant.

Edwards, who attended the meeting, suggested not less than two miles separation be included in the future policy.

In 1993, over 1,600 Bearspaw residents of signed a petition requesting two-mile separation between gravel extraction sites and residences.

Alberta reinstates fines for public land violations

The Alberta government has announced penalty amounts for violations on Alberta’s public lands. 

Through a July 13 press release, the government announced specified ticket amounts and in some cases, mandatory court appearances.

The regulation, specifying as many as 45 violations and ticket amounts, will be effective Aug. 6.

When the provincial government amended regulations in 2011, it failed to specify ticket amounts.

Residents in the Ghost Valley west of Cochrane have expressed concerns that clear-cut logging on public lands will make more areas accessible to off-highway vehicles (OHV).

From Aug. 6, operating an off-highway vehicle or motorcycle within 100 metres of a lakeshore in public land use zones could net violators $250 and the possibility of having to appear in court depending on the severity of the offence.

Discharging firearms endangering people or resources on public lands recreation areas or trails could cost violators $500.

Specific fines will also be applied to violations happening in the Castle Special Management Area

“When the Public Lands Administration Regulation (PLAR) consolidated four regulations in 2011, including the Forest Recreation Regulation, the violations were amended, however the specific ticket amounts were omitted,” the release noted.

Off highway vehicles trampling trails increase the amount of sediment on water streams. Photo: Alberta Wilderness Association

Off highway vehicles trampling trails increase the amount of sediment on water streams. Photo: Alberta Wilderness Association

 

County turns down Bearspaw development proposal

A group of Bearspaw residents broke in applause after the Council of Rocky View turned down a development plan they had come to oppose.

“This was a community effort,” said adjacent resident Myron Grunsky after the July 12 unanimous vote. “If they had approved it, 50 per cent of the trees would disappear.”

Owner CLD Development Ltd. proposed to change a land-use designation to allow a 17-acre parcel to be subdivided into eight lots about two acres in size.

Consultant Larry Konschuk of Golden City Corp. representing the developer said the parcel is located in an area defined by the Bearspaw area structure plan (BASP) as Priority 1 for future country residential. The quarter section surrounding the proposed property is also defined in the BASP as “not generally requiring concept plans.”

However, nine area residents lined up to express concern about stormwater drainage, sewage, and the impact that eight additional homes, access road and driveways would have on trees, wildlife including moose and deer in the heavily treed area, made up of four-acre or larger parcels.

“I do not want two-acre subdivision,” said resident Nancy Smith. “It will destroy the rural nature of the area.”

“If they had approved it, 50 per cent of the trees would disappear.” Myron Grunsky

Resident Joseph Dow, who has lived 25 years in the area, said his opposition was based on density and precedent-setting.

“We are a community of 17 homes,” he said. “This proposal will add 50 per cent more.”

While no residents spoke in favour of the proposal, three form letters and one letter stated support.

Resident Carol Borgland noted that subdivision into two-acre lots is a logical step after quarter sections began to be fragmented 40 years ago.

“By approving this bylaw, it is no different in my mind of approving the original 20 acre parcel subdivisions and meets the motto of the Rocky View County – ‘Cultivating Communities,’” she wrote.

Resident and former candidate for councillor Samanntha Wright said the two-acre parcel she lives on in another part of Bearspaw was created with full support from neighbours.

“However, this did not prevent my parcel from being flooded,” she said.

Konschuk said in rebuttal that the increased density would barely be noticed because the land is heavily treed.

He also said there should be opportunities for more people to live in the area.

“There should be an opportunity for everybody,” said the former Rocky View reeve. “Not just for the people who got there first.”

The BASP defines parcels no smaller than four acres. Smaller parcels are possible but require preparation of concept plans encompassing several properties.

Lacking such plan, County Administration recommended Council to turn down the project. However, Council has the power—and uses it on occasion—to overrule such recommendations.

In this case, however, area Coun. Eric Lowther spearheaded refusal after a two-hour hearing.

“I know the area is quite unique to Bearspaw,” Lowther said. “Even with a small circulation area, 30 residents are opposed.”

Lowther said he had supported two-acre lot proposals in the past, however a development must be “contiguous with what’s around it.”

Lowther reminded his peers that the BASP will be reviewed next year.

“I hope this (new) plan gives us more options for the area,” he said.

Coun. Jerry Arshinoff said he would gladly support Lowther’s motion after a clear majority of residents were against the change.

“Wildlife and trees are important to the people in the area,” he said.

Deputy Reeve Earl Solberg also announced his support.

“But only for one reason,” he said. “I believe a concept plan should have been done.”

Coun. Lois Habberfield also voted to turn down the plan after saying it was important that neighbours had come to speak.

“Here’s to you. I will support this motion,” she said, adding that for change to occur “there has to be some people on board.”

County councillors oppose Inglewood density increase

Rocky View councillors oppose increased density in a Calgary neighbourhood impacted by airport noise.

On July 5, eight councillors present as members of the Policy and Priorities Committee voted to oppose density changes in Inglewood.

They supported Reeve Greg Boehlke’s motion arising “to respond to the City of Calgary…by stating our reaffirmation of our 2006 agreement…that the NEF contours remain as is.”

Boehlke said the motion was conform to the “spirit and intent of the agreement signed by both councils in 2006.”

Boehlke’s motion followed a Calgary Airport Authority representative presentation expressing concerns about the City proposal.

“The reason we have significant concern with this regulation is, this will be significantly impacted by departures,” Calgary Airport spokesperson Jody Moseley told the committee. “It will be equally impacted by arrivals.”

Aircraft noise makes for difficult relationships between airports and communities. Photo: County News archive

Aircraft noise makes for difficult relationships between airports and communities. Photo: County News archive

 

Councillors Liz Breakey and Margaret Bahcheli wondered if the motion should wait until listening to the City’s side.

Other councillors did not share such concern.

“I do not support densifying,” said Lois Habberfield.

Inglewood is located within the path of aircraft landings and take offs, and as such is defined as located within the Noise Exposure Forecast (NEF) 30 of the Airport Vicinity Protection Area (AVPA) provincial regulation.

Transport Canada defines NEF 30 areas as subject to speech interference and annoyance caused by aircraft noise, making residential development inappropriate.

While Inglewood’s prior development is exempted by grandfathering, the regulation bars increasing density.

“Residential and airports do not mix well.” Jody Moseley, Calgary Airport

Earlier this year, the City decided to launch a consultation process prior to asking the province to remove the prohibition to redevelop in Inglewood. As a regional stakeholder, Rocky View has a say.

According to a City disclosure, any new development would be subject to the acoustical requirements of the Alberta Building Code.

The proposed exemption would encompass as many as 992 properties in Inglewood, noted Moseley in her presentation.

Coun. Eric Lowther reported local aircraft noise impact in the Bearspaw area he represents.

“My complaints have been increasing recently,” he said.

Coun. Jerry Arshinoff questioned Moseley about Rocky View’s Harmony development, approved for 10,000 residents in the vicinity of the Springbank Airport.

“Springbank does not have an AVPA,” said Moseley. However, she added, “residential and airports do not mix well.”

Committee chair Rolly Ashdown, however, barred Arshinoff questions about Harmony by ruling them off order.

An invitation to Larry Stock, Springbank Airport general manager, could be extended at some point, Ashdown added.

The Harmony website states that “homes will be built using triple paned window glass which helps to buffer aircraft noise and also improves energy efficiency in the homes.”

“Harmony has been designed to be an airport-compatible community,” the website also notes. “We have not only met but exceeded NEF Contour regulations for noise.”

Objections were raised by Colin MacLeod, president of the Springbank Airport Business and Pilots Association during an early 2014 meeting reported in the County News.

“They are going to have aircraft flying over their heads every 90 seconds,” he said “This is what the residents of Harmony will be up against.”

But Harmony developer Birol Fisekci argued caveats on title and a clause in all sale agreements will make home buyers aware of the airport’s existence and its possible effects.

 

Opinion: Council should pay attention to the County Plan

By Jerry Arshinoff
Div. 2 Councillor, Rocky View County

Rocky View’s municipal development plan, known as the County Plan, is an excellent document.

It is to the credit of the Council members who approved it, administration and the record number of residents who gave input.

The County Plan is Rocky View’s main planning document—it establishes where and how growth should occur in the municipality.

Over 500 residents attended workshops and open houses, and over 1,800 provided input through surveys and comments.

In accordance with the will of a majority of County residents, the County Plan calls for moderate residential growth—and sets a goal to “achieve a moderate level of growth, amounting to no more than 2.5 to 3 per cent of the region’s population over the 10 to 12 year time frame of this plan.”

“The last thing areas prone to flooding need is more water” Coun. Jerry Arshinoff

The Plan also aims to retain rural landscapes, dark skies and open vistas, while protecting native habitat, environmentally sensitive areas and wildlife corridors.

Growth is directed to 17 existing hamlets and country residential communities instead of opening new nodes in the countryside. Multi-lot subdivisions are to be built in adjacent urban municipalities instead of encroaching into agricultural areas.

The Plan also noted the residents’ view that “development must pay for itself and be affordable over the long term.”

This last point requires political will from Council to avoid approving proposals that may later require intervention at taxpayers’ cost as it occurred, for example, in Cochrane Lake.

However, a simple majority has the power to overrule the Plan’s policies and approve incompatible development proposals.

Developments with water being piped in and treated wastewater being discharged onsite have been approved in areas plagued by drainage problems. Treated sewage disposal systems based on spraying effluent on fields have also been accepted in Springbank.

While such systems could work in drier areas such as parts of southern Alberta, storm water ponds or spray irrigation in areas of Rocky View with very high water tables are risky.

Residents in Springbank, Conrich, Bearspaw and other areas in Rocky View have already seen how drainage issues increase with every additional storm water pond—yet Council keeps approving the same water dispersal “solutions” that we already know as recipes for disaster. The last thing areas prone to flooding need is more water. Adding more water in such places will have predictable consequences.

Even if the County Plan does not specifically prohibit developments where water is piped in and discharged onsite, the idea that development must be affordable in the long term obviously excludes quick-fix solutions that could be costly to taxpayers in the long term.

This is—or should be—obvious to anybody. Unfortunately it’s not obvious to the current Council majority, thereby adding to and compounding previous errors.

Bragg Creek residents review emergency egress options

As many as seven options for an emergency egress road for Bragg Creek areas west of the Elbow River were presented at an open house in the hamlet’s Snowbirds Chalet on June 23.

The flood of 2013 stressed the need for a secondary egress when the Balsam Avenue bridge over the Elbow River cut off West Bragg Creek and Wintergreen. This year’s catastrophic wildfires in northern Alberta reminded of the need of evacuation avenues for communities in forested areas.

Residents study boards outlining options for second egress for West Bragg Creek. Photo: Enrique Massot

Residents study boards outlining options for second egress for West Bragg Creek. Photo: Enrique Massot

 

Many residents attended the evening event, presented by Rocky View County and consultant Tetra Tech.

West Bragg Creek resident Ralph Cartar said an egress road north through Wintergreen Road and east to Highway 22 just north of the traffic circle appeared as the best option.

“It serves three purposes,” he said. “You are not going towards a flood area, a wild fire or a sour gas leak.”

Cartar also said such option would be short and easy to build and maintain, as it’s on relatively flat terrain.

“It would seem like an obvious choice,” he said. “However, it must go through Tsuut’ina lands and it would have to be negotiated,” he said.

Residents take a peak at a board outlining options for a West Bragg Creek emergency egress. Photo: Enrique Massot

Residents take a peak at a board outlining options for a West Bragg Creek emergency egress. Photo: Enrique Massot

 

Saddle and Sirloin resident Rick Godderis said the chosen egress route should go either northeast or southeast.

“There is no point in driving west into a forest fire,” he said.

However, some of the options presented would require construction of bridges over the Elbow River.

“They will have to go through Tsuut’ina,” Godderis said.

Elkana Estates resident Gord McIlwain said building an all-time second access would be the “realistic” alternative.

“It costs a lot of money to build a bridge and a road,” he said. “The two or three more reasonable options need a bridge.”

West Bragg Creek resident Ralph Cartar (right) believes a north egress road through Wintergreen Road through Tsuut'ina Nation lands is the best option. Photo: Enrique Massot

West Bragg Creek resident Ralph Cartar (right) believes a north egress road through Wintergreen Road through Tsuut’ina Nation lands is the best option. Photo: Enrique Massot

 

Area Coun. Liz Breakey said not knowing whether Tsuut’ina Nation will agree to have a municipal road go across its lands made the open house a premature exercise.

In addition, Breakey said, the open house should have provided information on affordability and cost-benefit evaluations, to add meaning to the different options.

“What would a flood-proof bridge across high bank Elbow River cost, versus perhaps five km of all-season road involving some wetland?” she said.

In addition, Breakey said, whether the access road will be for emergency only or an all-time road must be made clear.

“Most residents understand it to be an emergency egress only and that is what the consultants’ story was, whether true or not,” she said. “There is a big difference and the community needs this distinction made clear before they are asked for input.”

Rocky View communications manager Grant Kaiser said the intent was to present all options to the public and gather feedback.

“We started taking a preliminary look at costs and negotiations but we did not want to go too far, because we wanted to know before what the public thinks,” he said.

Lou Mak, Sr. Transportation Engineer at Tetra Tech EBA (left), explains options for emergency egress. Photo: Enrique Massot

Lou Mak, Sr. Transportation Engineer at Tetra Tech EBA (left), explains options for emergency egress. Photo: Enrique Massot

 

According to open house documents, feedback from stakeholders and members of the public will be evaluated together with technical merits to determine a preferred route.

The chosen option will then be presented to the public during a second open house in the fall.

“We will analyse the feedback, take the whole package…and present our preferred option,” Kaiser said.

Kaiser said “at this time,” the County is only considering a road for emergency use.

Hamlet business owner Suzanne Jacquet said making sense of the options presented through boards wasn’t easy for her. However, she added, “I am happy to be informed and knowing what the options are.”

Wintergreen resident Sue Cameron said transferring 5,000 acres of Crown land to the Tsuut’ina Nation in 2013 to allow for construction of the City of Calgary’s west ring road without consultation with Rocky View deprived the County from road allowances through which the egress road could have been built.

“We lost our second egress with the land swap,” she said.

Cameron said presenting options without knowing whether they are achievable was an incomplete job.

“Before you come to the people and say ‘these are your options,’ the consultants should have found out whether they are at all possible,” she said. “These guys…should have gone to Tsuut’ina and work with them.”

This board presents proposed egress road options. (Click on image to enlarge).

This board presents proposed egress road options. (Click on image to enlarge).

Options:

  1. Elk Valley Drive to Highway 66
  2. Wintergreen Rd. to Twp. Rd. 242 through Tsuut’ina lands
  3. North and west route around Tsuut’ina lands to Twp. Rd. 242
  4. Noth route around Tsuut’ina lands to Highway 68
  5. Wintergreen Rd. to Redwood Meadows through Tsuut’ina lands
  6. South route to Highway 66 through Kananaskis Country
  7. Range Rd. 52 extension to Highway 22 or Highway 758

Routes 1, 2, 5 and 7 provide shorter connections to the road network, allowing for faster response times and evacuation. Options 3, 4 and 6 require longer times and go across areas with a higher risk of wildfire events.

 

 

 

Environmental review seeks comments on Springbank dam

Rocky View County’s Div. 2 Councillor Jerry Arshinoff update to residents

The federal government is inviting the public to comment on potential environment impacts of a proposed Springbank off-stream reservoir project.

Jerry Arshinoff

Jerry Arshinoff

Anna Kessler, project manager for Prairie and Northern Region of the Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency, advised comments must be submitted by July 25.

Comments should address “which aspects of the environment may be affected by this project,” noted Kessler in a communication.

In addition, the public is invited to comment on “what should be examined during the environmental assessment.”

As pointed in a June 24 CTV story, some of the points to be examined could include:

  • air quality
  • noise
  • vegetation and wetlands
  • fish and fish habitat
  • wildlife
  • migratory birds
  • historical resources
  • traditional knowledge and traditional land use

As part of flood-mitigation measures, the Alberta government has proposed to build a dam in Springbank to divert water from the Elbow River to an off-stream reservoir during flood events.

“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,” the provincial government noted.

Greg Boehlke

Greg Boehlke

However, in a June 2 letter, Rocky View County requested the Canadian government to launch a federal environmental review.

“The County is concerned about the additional loss of agricultural land from the Springbank Project,” noted County Reeve Greg Boehlke among other concerns.

In a May 30 letter, Tsuut’ina Nation Chief Roy Whitney also requested an environmental review.

“The Project location, which was selected without any consultation with Tsuut’ina, is at the doorstep of our only reserve, Tsuut’ina Nation 145,” noted the letter. “The Project area is a mere 395 metres north of the reserve, less than the length of three football fields.”

“The County is concerned about the additional loss of agricultural land from the Springbank Project.” Rocky View Reeve Greg Boehlke.

The water would be contained in the Springbank off-stream reservoir before being gradually released back to the river.

The project, which would also include a diversion structure and channel, outlet works and modifications to Springbank Road, has received opposition from area residents and from landowners who would be displaced by the project.

Local opponents have put together their arguments in the Don’t Dam Springbank website.

Others are emphasizing support to building a dam on the Elbow River at its confluence with McLean Creek, upstream of Bragg Creek and Redwood Meadows, would protect those communities as well as Springbank and Calgary. Their arguments can be found in the Dam McLean website.

The Elbow River during the 2013 floods viewed from Bragg Creek's Balsam Avenue bridge. (County News archive).

The Elbow River during the 2013 floods viewed from Bragg Creek’s Balsam Avenue bridge. (County News archive).

 

After choosing the Springbank option, however, the Alberta government said it would fund construction of berms and dikes to flood proof Bragg Creek and Redwood Meadows.

The City of Calgary supports the Springbank option, as it estimates could be in place faster than the McLean Creek option.

The CBC has been covering the issue in several articles.

To view the federal government information page on the project, click here.

All comments received will be considered public, as detailed in a draft Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) Guidelines.

However, information such as home addresses, telephone numbers, email addresses and signatures will be removed prior to public disclosure.

“Should you provide any documents that contain confidential or sensitive information that you believe should not be made public,” the communication reads, “please contact the Agency at CEAA.Springbank.ACEE@ceaa-acee.gc.ca or 780-495-2037.”

 

 

 

 

Opinion: Time to reassure Ag Society supporters

By Janet Ballantyne

(Editor’s note) Coming from a politically active family, Janet Ballantyne is a west Rocky View resident who takes a keen interest in County politics.

This is an anxious time for supporters of the Cochrane and District Agricultural Society (CDAS).

Last January, Rocky View County started a process to sell the land occupied by the CDAS. A Request for Proposals soliciting possible offers of purchase closed earlier this month. We are all now awaiting news of the CDAS’s fate.

Ag Society grounds in Cochrane. Photo: County News archive.

Ag Society grounds in Cochrane. Photo: County News archive.

 

There are many questions Ag Society supporters would like answered. These include:

  • Whether the County has received any offers to purchase the land that are sizable enough to finance a new home and replacement facilities for the Ag Society and its user groups?
  • If such offers have been received, whether Council will deliver on its verbal commitments to the Ag Society and ensure that sufficient proceeds are earmarked to maintain the Ag Society?
  • In the alternative scenario, if the County has not received adequate offers, will it now renew the CDAS lease for a meaningful length of time?

I understand that Rocky View County has to assess whatever responses it has received from its RFP process. I also understand that until that evaluation is complete, Rocky View cannot provide specific answers to these questions. However, knowing this does not alleviate the worry and concern shared by Ag Society supporters.

Many, if not most, of the fears of Ag Society supporters could be calmed if the County would simply put into writing the verbal assurances it has already given to the CDAS. This would not commit the County to selling or not selling the land. It would be a contingent commitment – if the County decides to sell the land, then it will allocate sufficient funds to relocate the Ag Society and its user groups onto suitable land with an appropriately long term lease, along with sufficient funds to fully replace its existing facilities.

Providing commitments in writing is a standard business practice. By not doing so, the County has left Ag Society supporters worrying about potential motives. If Rocky View administration does not believe it has the authority to do this on its own, then Council should be willing to provide the necessary guidance and authority.

Putting assurances into writing would not bind the County to sell the land.

What it would do, however, is very important. It would remove the fears that inevitably breed suspicions.

I certainly hope that these worries and suspicions are unfounded. I also hope that Council will be honourable in its dealings with the Ag Society. Assuming that Council intends to live up to these expectations, there should be no hesitancy to formalizing its assurances.

Until then, Ag Society supporters will have to rely on hopes and prayers that the CDAS will be able to continue providing the extraordinary recreational facilities highly valued by so many Rocky View residents and by people in the wider regional community.