Rocky View administrators recommend refusal of Wintergreen redevelopment

Developer fails to address outstanding issues

By Enrique Massot
The County News

For the second time, Rocky View County administration is recommending council to reject a proposal to redevelop the former Wintergreen ski hill into a residential subdivision.

“Creating a community with approximately 300 residences in an isolated, steeply sloped area, with a high/extreme wildfire risk, and a single internal road that funnels all the traffic onto a single access, without an emergency egress in the area, is not safe,” noted planner Johnson Kwan in a report to council.

On Nov. 28, council ended public input, voted first and second reading, and directed administration and the developer to solve outstanding issues. Council also agreed to consider again the proposal on Jan. 23.

However, after meeting twice with Resorts of the Canadian Rockies (RCR) representatives, Kwan wrote, “The Applicant has not submitted any additional information or new technical studies to address the outstanding technical issues detailed in the November 28, 2017 staff report.”

Nonetheless, Kwan included an option for council to approve the developer’s plan with a total of 57 amendments, “in an attempt to mitigate the outstanding technical matters through policy development.”

Kwan, however, is not recommending council to go for the amendments.

“Any of the potential requirements necessary to address and mitigate the impacts as a result of the development, would be subject to appeal at the future subdivision and/or development permit stages,” he noted.

For example, one of two RCR-proposed amendments would require the County and the developer “to explore cost contribution for Wintergreen Road upgrades at the time of subdivision.”

Instead, upgrades that are required to accommodate development-generated traffic are to be financed by the developer, Kwan noted. However, RCR could appeal conditions such as upgrading Wintergreen Road, which County administrators have estimated at nearly $2 million without land-acquisition costs.

“The appeal would be outside of Council’s jurisdiction,” indicated Kwan.

As a result, Kwan recommended council to turn down the application.

By refusing the proposal, noted Kwan, Rocky View would keep in line with provincial legislation.

“In accordance with the Municipal Government Act (Section 3a), one of the main purposes of a municipality is to ‘develop and maintain safe and viable communities,’” he wrote.

The Rocky View Council will consider third and final reading to the redevelopment on Tuesday, Jan. 23, during a regular meeting that starts at 9 a.m.

Rocky View County’s municipal building is located at 911-32 Ave. N.E., Calgary.

Opinion – Development, lawsuit: Beware of your tax dollars

By Jerry Arshinoff
Springbank

(Editor’s note: Jerry Arshinoff represented Div. 2 Springbank as member of the Rocky View County council from 2013 to 2017)

Wintergreen redevelopment proposal

 

This month, the Rocky View Council will continue the debate on a proposed large development at the former site of the Wintergreen ski hill.

Many factors must be evaluated, most notably community input (cancelled since Nov. 28) and potential taxpayer subsidies.

Rule number one should be: no more subsidies. Developers must be willing and able to foot the bill for all related necessary infrastructure, including sewage, roads, etc.

If Rocky View continues to promise or guarantee unrealistic and undeliverable infrastructure, many more legal suits will be forthcoming.

Rocky View settles with Sunterra

Rocky View residents should pay attention to ​ the​ recently announced settlement the County made in regards to a lawsuit launched by Sunterra Beef against Rocky View. See also County News story.

The suit was for $50 million. The settlement will cost you $14 million, or $1,400 per Rocky View family of four. The payment to Sunterra does not take into account an additional, significant sum for legal fees.

At first glance, two factors become apparent – no one seems to be responsible for this debacle and Rocky View, in the hope no one would be paying attention, released this news shortly before Christmas.

This is what happens when poorly planned and poorly thought out developments are approved. That is not to say we haven’t had beneficial and positive developments. We certainly have – but many more have been little more than a big rush to promote growth at any cost. Very often that cost has been in environmental, lifestyle and social terms. In this case its also in terms of $14 million plus of taxpayer money gone straight down the drain.

Rocky View pure drivel is apparent in the last two paragraphs of the announcement:

“The decision to reassign water and wastewater capacity to other businesses and developments has resulted in economic stability and lower taxes….”

“Development has brought tens-of-millions of dollars in non-residential property taxes and levies. That economic activity has helped keep residential property tax rates among the lowest in the province.”

Only Rocky View would present a loss of more than $14 million as a good thing. The reality is that previous, current and planned subsidies more than offset the increase in non-residential taxes.  It is true that Rocky View does have a lower tax rate than many of its neighbours – but that is because the county does not offer many services neighbours do, such as buses, LRT, social services, sidewalks, garbage pick up,​ street lights, policing, sewage, water and others.

Subsidies have not brought lower taxes. Subsidies have brought tenfold increased debt.

 

Rocky View reaches $14-million settlement with Sunterra Beef

By Enrique Massot
The County News

The news was dropped as 2017 was coming to a close: A “made-in-Rocky View solution” for water and wastewater in Balzac was going to cost taxpayers an additional $14 million.

The payment settled a legal claim of Sunterra Beef against Rocky View for the County’s failure to honour water and wastewater servicing agreements to the Rancher’s Beef abattoir and packing plant in Balzac.

“After years of effort and negotiation, the County agreed to pay $14 million to Sunterra Beef Ltd. to fully settle the matter,” a Rocky View Dec. 12 release read. “The funds will come from the County’s reserves.”

Rancher’s Beef opened the plant in June of 2006, but ceased operations in August of 2007.

After a period of inactivity, the company was declared bankrupt in February of 2008 and its assets were subsequently sold, together with water and wastewater agreements, to Sunterra Beef Ltd.

In March of 2008, Rocky View told Sunterra it needed to enter into new servicing agreements.

“Regarding the water agreement, Rocky View said it had no water to provide to the Plant,” noted a statement of claim that Sunterra Beef Ltd. filed on March 28, 2013 against Rocky View, Rancher’s Beef Limited Partnership and Ranchers’ Beef Ltd.

Sunterra said refusal to honour the water and wastewater agreements prevented selling the plant to Lilydale in 2008.

In January, 2013, Sunterra notified Rocky View of another agreement to sell the plant to Harmony Beef Company.

In February, 2013, the statement of claim alleged that Rocky View told Harmony that, to provide water, Harmony would have to enter cost-contribution agreements for water and wastewater at an “initial cost” to Harmony of $6.6 million for water infrastructure and $6.5 million for wastewater.

Sunterra argued it had already made capital contributions for both water and sewage and that the site had been fully developed and connected to water and sewage infrastructure.

The problem was, during the plant’s inactivity, the County had allocated the plant’s water and sewage capacity to other users.

“Rocky View, in further breach, permitted other users to use the facilities constructed so that the County now refuses to provide wastewater services to the plant unless the owner pays for the construction of new wastewater facilities,” the Sunterra statement read.

Rocky View, in its Dec. 12 release, acknowledged it.

“With the plant closed and using little or no water, the (then) MD of Rocky View proceeded to assign water and wastewater capacity to other developments in the East Balzac and Conrich areas in order to support the municipality’s continued economic development,” noted the County’s release.

In a statement of defence filed in June, 2013, Rocky View alleged that an August 2006 provincial moratorium on the issuance of water licences to withdraw water from the Bow River constituted a force majeure event.

“As a result…the County has never had the capacity to supply water to the plant pursuant to the water agreement,” it noted.

None of the allegations was proven in court.

“The decision to reassign water and wastewater…has brought thousands of jobs to Rocky View County.” Rocky View

The $14-million payment adds up to about $135 million the County spent to build water and sewer infrastructure servicing Balzac and east Rocky View, according to estimations of the residents’ group Rocky View Forward (RVF) published in the County News on Dec. 16, 2016.

In its Dec. 12 release, Rocky View estimated that “the decision to reassign water and wastewater capacity to other businesses and developments…has brought thousands of jobs to Rocky View County, and tens-of-millions of dollars in non-residential property taxes and levies.”

County officials, however, haven’t shown how much extra tax revenue the County is making in order to offset $135 million spent in infrastructure.

In addition, contrary to early projections and 12 years after starting the project, the County is still in debt for about $90 million.

According to page 18 of the December 2016 audited financial statements, the County owes about $58 million to banks and financial institutions.

Based on information provided by Rocky View officials, RVF was able to establish that the County also owes about $16 million to taxpayers and close to $15 million to developers.

Purchasing a water licence to the Western Irrigation District for $15 million added to the project expenses.

In addition, the operation of the water and sewage infrastructure requires subsidies to the tune of between $1.5 million and $2.3 million per year, according to RVF estimations.

And while debt with banks and financial institutions has slightly gone down, the wastewater treatment plant in Langdon is near capacity and will soon need upgrades estimated to cost $35 million.

Public input closed on Wintergreen redevelopment

By Enrique Massot
The County News

Input from Bragg Creek area residents regarding a proposed redevelopment of the former Wintergreen ski hill is no longer accepted, a Rocky View County spokesperson said.

“The time for public input was at the (Nov. 28) initial public hearing,” said Communications Manager Grant Kaiser. “The public hearing is now closed.”

Kaiser said the County received “many presentations and submissions both for and against” the Resorts of the Canadian Rockies (RCR) proposal prior to the public hearing.

County administration reported to council that notice of the proposal was circulated to 110 “adjacent landowners.”

Not all Wintergreen residents, however, received the notice. Three residents sent letters in support, two of which contained objections, and one letter of unconditional support was sent by the Bragg Creek and Area Chamber of Commerce.

Six residents sent letters in opposition.

At the public hearing, nine residents spoke in support of the development, while three spoke in opposition.

Residents can still communicate their views to councillors, whose official email addresses can be found here.

RCR proposes to build approximately 300 homes, a 100-room hotel and a commercial component in lands previously occupied by the ski hill, which was decommissioned in 2003. County administration recommended council to turn down the application because several key outstanding items remained unsolved two years and a half after the plan was submitted to Rocky View.

Council, however, passed first and second readings to both a conceptual scheme and land-use redesignation for the proposal but withheld third (final) reading on both applications, directing County administration to negotiate outstanding technical items with RCR.

Such items, outlined in an administrative report to council, include:

  • Incompatibility of the proposal with housing densities permitted by the Greater Bragg Creek area structure plan,
  • Requirement for a second emergency egress for the area,
  • Requirement for a third emergency egress once 600 homes are built in north and west Bragg Creek (there is a total 500 homes in both areas now),
  • RCR’s agreement to finance the widening of Wintergreen Road to 10 metres from eight,
  • Provincial approval of a water licence conversion from snow-making to domestic use,
  • RCR’s agreement to connect the proposed development to Rocky View’s wastewater treatment plant and to finance capacity upgrades,
  • Provision of improved emergency egress from the subdivision for about 100 houses,
  • Provision of improved access to the Hamlet of Bragg Creek from Highway 22,
  • Municipal reserve calculations and specifications clarified to County administration’s satisfaction

The results of the negotiations must be presented to council after the new year.

“A report from Administration on progress will be presented to Council on January 23,” noted Kaiser in a Dec. 7 email to the County News. “At that time, Council will decide whether or not they are prepared to accept third reading, refuse it, or give more time/direction to Administration and then hold the matter off until a later date.”

An audio recording of the Nov. 28 meeting can be found in the County’s website. Council’s consideration of the RCR proposal starts at 2:28 and ends at 5:11.

Wintergreen redevelopment given preliminary approval

Developer, County must solve outstanding issues

By Enrique Massot
The County News

A developer must solve outstanding issues before Rocky View County allows the redevelopment of the former Wintergreen ski hill into residential, hotel and retail centre.

“What I would like to see is Resorts of the Canadian Rockies (RCR) and staff come together and dot some i’s and cross some t’s with regards to everything we heard today,” said area Coun. Mark Kamachi.

On Nov. 28, the County council gave second reading but withheld third (final) reading to a conceptual scheme and land-use redesignation allowing for about 300 residences, a hotel and commercial space in the former Wintergreen ski hill.

“We want to have control, making sure (the project) is as close as possible to the (Greater Bragg Creek) area structure plan and the wants of the community,” said Kamachi.

A proposal to turn a former ski hill into a residential development has remaining issues. Photo: County News archive.

 

The financing of upgrades to Wintergreen Road, connecting the proposed redevelopment to the Hamlet of Bragg Creek and Highway 22, is one unsolved item.

RCR’s position is that the 3.2-km road cost improvements must be shared by the County.

Other outstanding issues are the developer’s financing commitment to enhance the Bragg Creek wastewater treatment plant; redesign the development’s secondary road access to allow for safe evacuation in an emergency event; provisions for emergency egress from the west and north Bragg Creek area; agreement on municipal reserve land calculations, and clarification of responsibilities on open space maintenance.

Michael Coldwell, planner with Urban Systems representing RCR was disappointed by the delay.

“The fact that we are going to be sent back to the drawing board really concerns us,” he said.

Coldwell wanted to obtain immediate approval for both applications and address the outstanding issues at the later stage of subdivision and development permit.

However, County planner Johnson Kwan said approval of the conceptual scheme would reduce council’s leverage.

“At the subdivision stage it is often too late to deal with technical issues because council can be taken out of the process through a simple appeal,” he said. “Council has no particular role once the subdivision appeal is made.”

Area residents spoke both in support and opposition to the proposal.

Susan Cameron, a 35-year area local resident, supported the project.

“What has been presented here before council today is, in our opinion, a class-act development,” she said, outlining a list of projects done by RCR across Canada.

Cameron also criticized the administrative report to council.

“There were not positive comments,” she said. “There seemed to be no balance.”

Former area councillor Liz Breakey supported immediate approval of the RCR plan.

“The technical issues associated with the proposal can be resolved through the application of conditions on subdivision development,” she said.

Breakey, who was chair of the steering committee in charge of writing the local area plan in 2006, said the Wintergreen site had been discussed.

“As one of two north Bragg Creek reps for the area I’d like to state clearly that the Wintergreen redevelopment proposal was always very much a part of the Greater Bragg Creek Area Structure Plan,” she said.

However, Gordon McIlwain, who was vice-chair of the steering committee, had a different recollection.

“This particular (RCR) proposal area, my recollections are, was basically a new development area as described in the area structure plan,” he said.

McIlwain said the committee envisioned future growth, “to the south of the existing hamlet along Highway 22, up to the (Banded Peak) school.”

McIlwain asked council to uphold the area structure plan and turn down the RCR proposal.

“This community put its heart and soul into the communication and the consultation around the area structure plan,” he said. “It’s a carefully designed document and it was the best consensus that the community could reach around 2006.”

Local business owner and long-time Wintergreen resident Michael Woertman opposed the redevelopment.

“I find the RCR application extremely aggressive in nature in areas that have been highlighted by your own staff,” he said. “There is an opportunity for council to gain some credibility by turning down this application entirely and asking the applicant to address all the key concerns.”

Wintergreen 24-year resident David Deere supported the plan and said the area needs to grow.

“I am here to give my full support for sensible growth,” he said.

However, Deere also emphasized the need to upgrade Wintergreen Road adding a pathway for the safety of numerous pedestrians using it.

“I am a marathoner, I run up and down on that road, probably three to five times a week and I’ve been nearly hit a number of times,” he said.

The RCR’s planning consultant said aligning the project with the Greater Bragg Creek area structure plan would allow for just 80 residential units, a number that would render the project uneconomical.

In disagreement with administration’s warnings,  Coun. Al Schule made a motion to allow passing third and final reading to the conceptual scheme after the public hearing closure.

“I believe most items can be dealt with redesignation,” he said.

Schule’s motion was supported by Reeve Greg Boehlke and Coun. Daniel Henn.

However, Kamachi opposed the motion, with support from Deputy Reeve Gautreau and councillors Kim McKylor, Kevin Hanson, Samanntha Wright and Crystal Kissel.

Third (final) readings to the conceptual scheme and land-use change will be considered Jan. 23, pending resolution of remaining outstanding issues.

Opinion: RCR Wintergreen application falls short

By Enrique Massot
The County News

Citing several missing items, Rocky View staff report has recommended council to turn down an application to redevelop the former Wintergreen ski hill as a large residential and commercial complex.

The ball is now in council’s court.

To be sure, council has the power to follow its administration’s advice and reject the application. It could also change it, impose conditions, or just approve the project as presented.

The nine-member body would, however, be expected to consider the financial implications the proposal could have for County taxpayers.

For example, upgrading the 3.5 km-long Wintergreen Road to accommodate additional traffic to be generated by the development is a multi-million undertaking.

Resorts of the Canadian Rockies (RCR), the largest private ski resort in Canada and owner of hotels, lodges and golf courses across the country, is proposing the County to share the cost of the upgrades – without mention of sharing percentages.

To be fair, a private company’s goal is to maximize benefits. If they can get to build 300 residences with minimum conditions, it is their right to try.

A different thing is the municipal council, which must carefully weigh the public interest in each decision it makes.

Administrators, to their credit, have clearly stated their disagreement with the developer’s suggestion to “share” the cost of the road upgrades. They have indicated that the upgrades will be needed to accommodate traffic to be generated by the RCR development and pointed out the Greater Bragg Creek area structure plan aims to build pedestrian trails along area roads.

Cost consideration for several other items is missing in the application. As pointed out in the staff report, a second emergency egress from the area is required and traffic circles are planned to improve access to the hamlet from Highway 22 – however, funding for these items has not been secured.

In addition, staff noted the development connect to the municipal sewage treatment plant near the hamlet, which may need upgrades to process the additional flows.

The all-encompassing matter, however, is whether the proposed development’s size and density is acceptable for the area. Residents have argued in the past that changes to area structure plans should be done with participation of the area residents, as opposed to council summarily amending the plan.

Now, is council under some sort of obligation or pressure to approve this – or any – development?

Not at all. A municipality is obligated to accept applications and give them a fair hearing. Council must hear the applicant and the public. After that, council alone has authority to approve or reject any proposal, and its decisions on land use are unappealable. A decision is scheduled to be rendered on Tuesday, Nov. 18, after a hearing starting at 1:30 p.m.

The developer still has the right to reapply after some time.

Which seems a reasonable proposition at this point.

Administration recommends refusal of Wintergreen redevelopment plan

By Enrique Massot
The County News

Rocky View administrators are advising council to turn down a development proposing about 285 residential units, a village core and a commercial component in the Wintergreen area.

The proposal of Resorts of the Canadian Rockies, which would house about 900 residents in lands where a ski hill used to be, does not conform with the Greater Bragg Creek area structure plan (ASP), wrote Johnson Kwan of the County’s Planning Services.

“The proposed comprehensive community…proposes a higher density than what is allowed for the area under the current policy,” Kwan noted in a report to council.

On Nov. 28, council could decide to amend the Greater Bragg Creek ASP to allow for the development. In addition, council could decide to change the land use designation from business recreation district to direct control district.

A proposal to turn a former ski hill into a residential development has been recommended for refusal. Photo: County News archive.

Kwan noted the developer is proposing to upgrade the 3.2-kilometre Wintergreen Road connecting the development to the Hamlet of Bragg Creek and Highway 22 on a cost-share basis with Rocky View County (RVC).

However, he also noted that there is no agreement in place regarding such cost sharing.

“Costs of…upgrades shall be borne solely by the Developer, as this upgrade is identified as required to support development traffic,” Kwan wrote.

In addition, the developer has not considered any pedestrian access to Bragg Creek along Wintergreen Road or other possible alignments.

“As per the Greater Bragg Creek Area Structure Plan, development of a community trails system is a priority for the community,” Kwan noted.

Rocky View Fire Services noted that there is only one access road planned to the whole subdivision.

“This is not Fire Smart,” the service noted. “Relying on one road to evacuate the entire community may not be wise.”

The report to council notes several additional concerns that include the status of water licences, sewage treatment options and stormwater management.

In addition, north and west Bragg Creek currently rely on a single egress route through the Balsam Avenue bridge over the Elbow River.

“According to the National Fire Protection Association standards, the existing conditions, with approximately 500 residential units, would require a minimum of two access points,” the report noted. “The additional development proposed by the Applicant would lead to the requirement for a third access point in the north and west Bragg Creek area.”

The developer has not proposed how to address the lack of emergency egress in the area.

“Allowing such comprehensive development without adequately addressing the emergency egress situation would exacerbate the existing public safety concern, potentially putting additional population at risk in an emergency event,” Kwan’s report noted.

Six residents submitted letters in opposition to the proposal, while three residents wrote in support.

The council of Rocky View will consider the proposal on Tuesday, Nov. 28, starting 1:30 p.m.

The staff report to council can be found in the Rocky View official website or by clicking here.

 

Tri-River reservoir a better option than Springbank, consultant says

By Enrique Massot
The County News 

Controlling the flow of three rivers at once could allow much better flood mitigation than the Springbank dam and off-stream reservoir, a civil engineer says.

“There are four rivers causing flood,” said Dr. Emile Gabriel. “If we work on one river only we are missing the other three.”

Gabriel, president and CEO of Trinity M.C.G. consultancy, began studying flood mitigation alternatives after the catastrophic June 2013 floods in the Calgary region.

Dr. Emile Gabriel speaks at Redwood Meadows on Nov. 10. Photo: Enrique Massot

Speaking at a Nov. 10 presentation in Redwood Meadows, he said the Tri-River Joint Reservoir option would allow controlling three flood-causing rivers with a single dam and reservoir

Gabriel was dismayed when the NDP Alberta government backtracked from an election campaign promise of building a dam at McLean Creek and instead decided to keep the previous government’s choice to build a dam and reservoir in Springbank.

“I asked, why so close to the city?” he said.

Gabriel said earth dams are subject to breaks, citing the 2014 break of the Mount Polley dam in B.C.

“This happened just three years ago,” he added.

In case of failure, the 15 km between Calgary and the Springbank dam would leave little time to prepare, as water would take just 15 minutes to reach the city.

The Springbank project was designed to protect Calgary from a 2013-sized flood.

However, Gabriel said, “no expert can guarantee the next flood will be equivalent to that of 2013.”

And as roadblocks to the Springbank project multiply, Gabriel said the government should give a chance to the Tri-River Joint Reservoir option.

Dr. Karen Massey, a Redwood Meadows resident, was concerned the Springbank dam would leave the townsite without upstream protection.

“History has shown from the 1995, 2005, and 2013 floods that the rip rap on the berms get washed away,” she said. “We don’t want our basements flooded in Redwood Meadows when…water from the proposed Springbank reservoir creates pressure on the springs and start to back up.”

Controlling the Elbow, the Sheep and the Highwood Rivers would reduce flooding in most of the Calgary area. Because the three rivers are tributaries of the Bow River, controlling their flow could also help control the Bow downstream of Calgary.

Taking advantage of the topography, Gabriel’s plan would allow for diversion of water from the Elbow and the Highwood Rivers to a reservoir formed by a dam on the Sheep River running between the two.

The resulting reservoir would be 30 km long and one km wide, able to contain 10 times the 70 million cubic metres for which the Springbank dam is designed.

Gabriel said the Springbank dam would be sitting on clay, whereas a concrete dam at Tri-River would be built on a solid rock foundation.

The Springbank dam has been designed to store flood water only temporarily.

“But you can’t store water or generate power with it,” Gabriel said.

Instead, the permanent water storage provided by the Tri-River project could be used to generate power, to supply water to Okotoks, for irrigation and for forest firefighting purposes.

“The Three-River project is an investment,” said Gabriel. “Springbank is not an investment at all—it’s a liability.”

Gabriel said some objections focused on the fact the Tri-River project would be in Kananaskis Country.

However, he said, “you have engineered structures such as Lake Minnewanka, where a dam was built to generate hydroelectric power.”

The Spray Lakes Reservoir, built in 1950, is another example of engineered structures in Kananaskis Country.

Gabriel, who built the Tri-River concept on a voluntary basis, could not provide an estimate cost for the proposal, which should be part of a provincial study. However, such study will need to take into account that the Springbank project would have an annual maintenance cost and yield no benefits, while the Tri-River project could generate annual benefits in irrigation, water supply and power generation.

 

Rocky View to consider Wintergreen redevelopment Nov. 28

A proposal to redevelop a former ski hill as a 300-home subdivision is going in front of the Rocky View council on Tuesday, Nov. 28.

Consideration of the proposal is scheduled to start at 1 p.m. and will include a public hearing where residents and stakeholders will be able to present to council.

According to a 2005 draft, The Pines at Bragg Creek would include a 100-room hotel.

The project is proposed on 254 acres that were occupied by the decommissioned Wintergreen ski hill and adjacent to the Wintergreen Golf and Country Club. The residential sector will include single family, semi-detached and some row-style homes on lots sized from 0.09 acre to three acres.

An additional 89-acre parcel would be allocated for public use.

More details will be available on Rocky View County’s agenda for the Nov. 28 council meeting, to be posted Wednesday Nov. 23, around 4:30 p.m.

 

 

Rocky View opposes regional planning

By Enrique Massot
The County News 

As the provincial government announces its implementation, Rocky View remains opposed to regional planning and argues the current system works fine.

“For many years now, Rocky View County has followed the principles of sound regional planning,” notes an official County release. “We’ve worked with our many neighbouring cities, towns, districts, and counties to avoid conflicts.”

In several communications and a position paper submitted to the province, the County has objected to what it calls an “unelected” growth management board.

“At no point did the Alberta Government ask residents and property owners in the Calgary region if they wanted to see autonomy taken away from their elected councils and given to an unelected board,” said County Reeve Greg Boehlke in an Oct. 4 communication.

A Municipal Affairs spokesperson, however, said municipal government boards will in fact be made up of elected officials – such as Boehlke.

“Boards must be composed of elected representatives – usually mayors and reeves unless otherwise chosen by councils,” said Lauren Arscott, press secretary for Shaye Anderson, Minister of Municipal Affairs.

The County is also concerned with lack of appeal mechanism in regard to future MGB rulings.

“The Alberta government seems to feel that removing the right to appeal a decision to an independent body is just fine for these Growth Management Boards,” said Boehlke.

Arscott said GMBs will be required to establish, by bylaw, an appeal or dispute-resolution mechanism or both, to resolve disputes arising from a board’s actions or decisions.

While GMBs decisions will be final, Arscott said, municipalities will retain the ability to appeal any decision to the Court of Queen’s Bench.

Boehlke has also claimed that lack of public consultation has plagued the Growth Management Board process from the start.

Municipalities near Calgary and Edmonton will see their authority and the rights of their landowners eroded, and many people have no idea it is even happening,” he noted.

According to information in the MGA Review provincial website, about 1,500 citizens provided input through 77 community meetings during the first phase of a review of the Municipal Government Act that began in 2012.

More than1,250 written submissions were submitted to the province (from) municipalities, including a 20-page Rocky View position paper as well as industry, the oil and gas sector, builders and developers, the Alberta Urban Municipalities Association and the Alberta Association of Municipal Districts and Counties.

During a second round, the province heard from 2,400 citizens attending 21 public sessions; 2,376 questionnaires and 122 letters were submitted.

Boehlke says a chief concern for the County is the decision-making system that will require two-thirds of the municipality members having two-thirds of the total population.

The Calgary growth management board will be formed by Calgary, Chestermere, Airdrie, Rocky View, Okotoks, Cochrane, M.D. of Foothills, Strathmore, a portion of Wheatland County, and High River.

On Jan. 1, 2018, provisions in the reviewed Municipal Government Act establishing a growth management board (GMB) in the Calgary area will be in force.

The GMB will have three years to prepare a growth plan for the Calgary area.

Municipalities members of a GMB will be required to amend statutory plans and make decisions consistent with the growth plan and the umbrella regional plan, the South Saskatchewan Regional Plan, approved in 2014.

The GMB will also be tasked with preparing, within three years, a Metropolitan Development/Servicing Plan for the Metropolitan Region including services such as water and wastewater, transportation and transit, solid waste, and fire services.