Opinion: Lessons from an election

Enrique Massot
The County News

If there were any doubts left about forceful intervention of outside interests to sway the election process in Rocky View County, the last campaign provided sheer evidence of such intervention.

In an unprecedented public relations operation, members of the development industry purchased the coveted page 3 of the Rocky View Weekly, the only newspaper focusing on the County, for the whole length of the election campaign.

In the past, developers had quietly funded the election campaigns of friendly candidates, and the funding and its recipients would only be revealed four months after the election.

However, this time they came out of the closet by publishing seven full-page advertorials on each issue from Sept. 12 to Oct. 10, to boost the candidacies of Kim McKylor in Division 2 Springbank and Eric Lowther in Division 8 Bearspaw.

Advertorials, defined by the Merrian-Webster Dictionary as “an advertisement that imitates editorial format,” are usually clearly identified as such with a “paid advertisement” line on top of the ad. In this opportunity, the Weekly chose not to include such warning.

In the advertorials, Bruce McAllister of Rocky View 2020’s published texts praising council members such as Greg Boehlke, while launching attacks on the “angry, anti-everything candidates.”

“There’s a good chance they voted for Rachel Notley and Justin Trudeau,” noted McAllister, a Chestermere resident who was hired to work as executive director for the RV2020 group when former executive Eric Lowther decided to run for office.

The advertorials featured writers such as real estate agents Gerry Neustaedter and Jason Bamlett, and even outgoing Div. 1 councillor Liz Breakey – singing praises to Lowther’s “decorum” in council.

The advertisers, however, reserved their heavy ammunition for resident-first Springbank incumbent candidate Jerry Arshinoff, by accusing him of…having been a Liberal Party candidate – in the 1980s.

They of course omitted to mention Arshinoff’s “yes” initiatives at the municipal level where party lines don’t count because bad roads or chronic flooding hurt all the same no matter which political party residents support.

They did not mention Arshinoff’s “yes” interventions on behalf of residents to solve flooding issues in Springbank or his intervention before the provincial government that finally allowed a lasting solution to Cochrane Lake’s flooding–paid by the province. The developer-friendly majority in council, including the area councillor had felt comfortable making the residents pay for the solution before Arshinoff succeeded in spreading the cost among the provincial taxpayers.

The advertisement group failed, however, to make their favourite, Eric Lowther, earn a victory in Bearspaw.

Surely Div. 8 residents took some hints from Lowther’s willingness to approve gravel pits in another division.

To read the advertorials, you need to go to the full digital version of the Rocky View Weekly and click on “Archive.”

Sour grapes is patent in this week’s RV Weekly’s letters to the editor.

Who is Rocky View 2020

Rocky View 2020 was formed in 2013 to lobby for changes to the County Plan, Rocky View’s highest-level planning document that designated 17 places for growth that the developers opposed.

The group’s founders, as revealed by the County News, were mostly Calgary developers with large projects in Rocky View.

It included Guy Buchanan with the Gardner project on Highway 8; Andy Crooks, lobbyist for the Glenbow Ranch area structure plan; Garett Wohlberg of Qualico Communities; Ron Renaud and Paul Douglas of Bingham Crossing; and Riaz Choudhry of Edmonton’s VIP Development group of Companies. More recently, the group announced the addition of Louise Locke of Bearspaw as RV2020’s board director.



  • G. Wilson

    Yup, changes continue to happen and a lot of it has been downhill. Looks like Kim got together with Hiliary for a few pointers prior to running. 2020 ties right into the web of course and the completely unmonitored election system was a laugh.

  • LivinginAB

    Clearly you have no idea what “massive density” looks like.

  • AOL:

    You obviously believe lying is okay as long as you are safely hiding behind a nickname.

    You pretty well know that resident-first councillors were a minority in the last Rocky View council, and therefore could not shut down anything at all even if they had wanted.

    Now, just as an example:

    Do you know how large is the Central Springbank area structure plan?
    Answer: 20,000 acres.
    Do you know how many houses could be built tomorrow if there were any takers?
    Answer: Over 3,000.

    So what’s the situation in Central Springbank today?

    “If the development rate remains at the rate it has been in the last 20 years, with an average of 47 new dwellings per year, it will take approximately 87 years for Central Springbank to reach capacity according to the current land-use bylaws and the area structure plan.”

    (Source: RVC Land Inventory 2016).

    Better luck next time, aol.

  • Simple Simon

    A jug of milk, a latte & a ……. gravel pit?

  • aol

    Tom you are 100% bang on.This bunch would not have you building anymore than a small bird house if they had their way.The one positive is Arshinoff and Massot got clocked so there maybe a slim chance that we can open Springbank again to do some business. Previous councillors and the anti business bunch that comment on this rag pretty well had the county shut down for business. Welcome to Springbank. I am a rather new comer as well 25 years.

  • J Donahue

    Tom, you may have some values that you believe represent what you have bought into and that’s great. But I can’t help but wonder why you moved to Springbank if all you want is urbanization.

    To sit there and call RV Forward backward illustrates your newness. Had you checked out their website at all you would have seen that they advocate for a transparent and open government as well as sustainable development.Why you would frown upon an organization that wants to see your tax dollars work for you makes me question how much you really know. Be careful which garden path you’ve been led down, my friend. It won’t take you long to realize you pay a lot of money for relatively little in return.

  • Simple Simon

    Is it just me or is the new catch phrase “backwards”?
    First coined by Solberg in his diatribe in RV Weekly.
    Backwards this and backwards that.
    Looks like some amongst us want us to move backwards to a 5 vote majority at council.
    Now that would be backward.

  • Simple Simon

    Is it just me or the the new catch frame ” backwards”
    First coined by Solberg ( see his diatribe in RV Weekly) and now the in phrase of choice?

  • Welcome,Tom and thanks for stopping by,
    You will certainly enjoy living in beautiful Springbank.
    Most Rocky View residents enjoy living in the countryside while being able to use the services of a first-class city whenever they need it.
    Calgary, Cochrane and other urban residents also enjoy their rural surroundings.
    Commutes, even regional, are never too long.
    Good planning by municipalities and at the regional level can keep those positive attributes for the benefit of all.
    Leave land-use decisions to the greed of private interests and you get another endless, car-dependant collection of bedroom communities.
    You choose.

  • G. Wilson

    Welcome to Rocky View Tom. Might be a good time to ask what you know about the history of the county, or even the last four years. Are you aware of the county’s flooding problems as a result of poorly planned development, are you aware of the lack of infrastructure, lack of policing, lack of fire services, lack of recreation facilities, etc., while a new $50 million plus plus building is being erected for RV staff. RVF and County News have full knowledge of the good and the bad over many years and if you wish to be informed I suggest you check out the archives on County News.
    It’s not backward thinking, it is practical thinking with background facts to support it.

  • Tom

    As a new resident to the springbank area, it doesn’t surprise me rather disappoints me that groups such as RVF and this online news are set in a backwards thinking mindset.

    Times have changed. Welcome in the new or continue to enjoy personal frustration as changes continue to happen throughout RVC.

  • cb

    Div 2 election results are a joke. 16 brought Kim in. When it’s that close there should be a another vote. Springbank is going to be a mess….

  • Come on, aol. The exec is hired to do what his bosses tells him to do. Go read past County News stories to learn more about RV2020–at least, be informed.
    You also should know that I do support growth that pays for itself and support the County Plan, which has seventeen (17) designated areas for grow in Rocky View–none of which of the liking of RV2020.
    Also, aren’t you afraid of looking a bit childish with your little prodding about the election results? Coun. Mark Kamachi ran a good campaign, I congratulated him and sincerely wished him all the best in his term. No sour grapes my dear aol – by I guess that is beyond your understanding.

  • Guy

    Aol, One would suggest we refrain from substanceless, childish attacks bordering on conspiracy theory, lest we reveal our frustrated, pathetic cowardice from behind a computer keyboard no less.

  • aol

    No I don’t know all the members. I do know the past exec. director Eric well that was a first class MP with 100% integrity prior to running for council. I do support some building in the county unlike your Rocky View Backward group. I do know who is not leading Division 1. Thank God for that.

  • Great, aol!
    No doubt you are fully exercising one fundamental citizen right – to support a group without knowing who’s leading it.

  • aol

    “{So, about the so-called “community advocacy group” RV2020…who did you say are part of its board of directors?”
    Are you having a hard time following conversation?? I never said I knew who is on the board of directors. I did say I know dozens of people that have no vested interest in real estate that are members. You got it this time??

  • Well…you sure keep busy around here! Certainly, the “certain amount of uninformed (and gullible) citizens” must appreciate your efforts.
    So, about the so-called “community advocacy group” RV2020…who did you say are part of its board of directors?

  • Kevin Hoar
  • aol

    The reason I write a bit here is to try and dispel the outright fabrications that you and your followers put on this rag. What worries me is just as I said above that there may be a certain amount of uninformed citizens that are gullible enough to believe the garbage you and your followers post. No the National Enquirer does tell more truth than your bunch. What topic are you referring to. The only topics that your bunch bring up are bashing RV2020 and council members that encourage business in RV. You should not try and let on you are a credible news source. Most citizens can see through your drivel as shown on election day.

  • Well…aol…if the County News isn’t credible: why do you spend so much time and energy writing here? What worries you?
    In any event, I will ask you to stick to the topic at hand and stop making unsustained allegations. This is by no means the National Enquirer and TCN has a letters’ policy. Read it.

  • Kim Magnuson


  • aol

    Did you also forget to mention the scores of small acreage owners and farmers that have no interest in selling that are members of RV 2020. The ordinary citizens that are concerned with your bunch of backward thinkers that are trying to slam the door closed to any business in RV. I know dozens of people that have NO vested interest or real estate holdings other than their own private dwelling in RV that are members. Your online rag has less credence than the the National Enquirer.

  • aol

    How about the candidates listed.

  • aol

    Yah isn’t this terrible news . 750 more jobs, spin off, property taxes up the ying yang income taxes paid. Just awful isn’t it. Balzac debt was and is the best investment RV has made ever.
    As Calgary pursues the second corporate headquarters of Amazon, it’s about to nab some regional jobs from the e-commerce giant in another form — hosting a new distribution centre.

    The Seattle-based firm is expected to announce Thursday that it will be opening up a “fulfilment centre” in the Calgary area, creating about 750 full-time positions, sources said.

    The facility will be located outside city limits in Balzac, with the company packing and shipping orders received from online customers.

    “Having 750 jobs is a significant opportunity,” said a source close to the announcement. “We’re just pleased that they are coming to the region.”

    Amazon has more than 4,000 full-time employees in the country, but does not have any major operations in Alberta.

    It runs six distribution centres across Canada, with four located in the Greater Toronto Area and two in the Vancouver area. It also has corporate offices in Ottawa, Toronto and Vancouver.

    Thursday’s announcement is expected to be attended by local and company officials, as well as Premier Rachel Notley.

    “We are very pleased that Amazon chose Alberta as place to invest,” said one government official, speaking on the condition of anonymity.

    The new facility will be located in Rocky View County, which has become a growing logistics and distribution hub. It has attracted companies like Walmart, which opened a $115-million food distribution warehouse in the area in 2010.

    It also comes as municipal and provincial governments have been pursuing out-of-province companies to enter the local market, in an effort to help diversify Alberta’s economy following two years of recession and high unemployment.

    “Certainly landing a company like Amazon will help us attract others,” said one source.

    Provincial and Calgary Economic Development (CED) officials have been talking with Amazon for months about bringing the company to Alberta.

    In recent weeks, CED has also spearheaded local efforts to become home to the U.S. company’s second corporate headquarters, a bidding process known as HQ2.

    The U.S. company announced this week it has received 238 proposals from across North America, from 54 cities and regions interested in hosting the project.

    Once the location for its second headquarters is selected next year, Amazon expects to spend US$5 billion and create up to 50,000 new jobs over time for HQ2.

    Thursday’s announcement in Balzac is not related to that project.

    The company is the largest e-commerce retailer in the world, posting net sales of US$37.9 billion for the three months ending June 30, 2017

  • What could be better than Rocky View residents supporting a Rocky View grassroots group?

  • Kim Magnuson

    My husband and I haven’t given a dime to RVF – yet.
    Seems like a good idea, though….

  • “Some of us in RVC want a tax base and believe in free enterprise.”
    Free enterprise is okay and usually does not takes public money. Ask yourself why Rocky View never recovered $80 million plus invested in utilities for big box stores in Balzac. Come on, it’s been over 12 years and every year there is another $1.5 million in interests.

  • It’s an easy task to make allegations while safely hiding behind a nickname. Anyone can spew out any sort of barf without being accountable.
    I am leaving this neat piece of literature in place so that residents can see by themselves what sort of characters they have lined against them.

  • Louise Ball

    Would love to know where you think you get your information from. It is so wrong.

  • aol

    Some of us in RVC want a tax base and believe in free enterprise. Unlike yourself and your RVF bunch of shut the gate on any business. Congrats to Kamachi.

  • aol

    You are lying again Massot . You know who funds RVF and Gravel Watch and your campaign and Samantha Wright and Arshinoff. It is Kim Magnussons husband. Pretty sore loser. Nice to see the good people of Bragg Creek had more than enough brains to see through your garbage rag you purport to be real news.

  • Louise:
    You are right. We’ve been fed for some time the “live, work and play” slogan together with the “complete communities” cliche, when in fact car-dependant bedroom communities is all that gets built.

  • Brent:
    Rocky View has the fortune of surrounding on three sides the largest city of the province.
    This is also it’s downside too. Why?
    Developers are keen on developing low-price farm land close to the city where they can sell with the mark up of “country life” while paying significantly lower levies.
    Business also like the fact they can cater to city customers–without paying business tax.
    All they need is a council willing to approve their projects even if substandard and even if they don’t make any planning sense.
    Hey, they can even get the municipal corporation to build utilities for them and then charge levies below cost! Never mind; the taxpayer will make up the difference.
    The industry has been very effective in getting friendly majorities in council since 2001. That’s five councils in a row!
    The point of my op-ed, then, was, in the past they did it quietly and effectively.
    This last time around, because increased awareness created by grassroots groups like Rocky View Forward and RV Gravel Watch, they came to support some of their candidates in the open.
    The full extent of their support, however, will be known March 1, 2018, when campaign contributions are disclosed.
    I believe there is some progress in that.

  • Louise Ball

    The really sad part about McKylor’s appealing to people who want to buy a latte and a jug of milk on the corner is that she carefully did not mention what was needed to have these “conveniences” — massive density.
    If you ask most of these people why they moved to Springbank, they will tell you because it wasn’t the city. When you then ask them what they think would be needed to have a coffee shop and a grocery store down the street — the lightbulb goes on and they realize to get that Springbank would need to turn into something equivalent of Calgary suburbia.
    This becomes especially true when you point out to them that even the developers in Elbow Valley discovered that there isn’t enough population density there to support any on-site commercial activity — the latest residential development in Elbow Valley is on the site that was supposed to be commercial.

  • G. Wilson

    I agree that losing Jerry Arshinoff on council will especially negatively impact Div. 2 and also residents in the entire RVC. I stated before that the young generation moving into Springbank want a latte and a jug of milk on the corner of their street and McKylor has agreed to accommodate them. I would suggest they have done no research on the last four years’ antics on council, no knowledge of present and future problems created by poorly planned huge developments, no experience trying to speak at public hearings where history has shown us they are told they cannot speak as Boehlke was the reeve and he decided who spoke, or they may be thrown out of the hearing.
    The contributions to pro development candidates can easily be disguised using a personal name from a large development corp. &/or gravel company rather than the corporations’ names on the list.
    The RV2020 group and their sheep know all the dirty tricks.

  • Brent

    The obvious insinuation of this editorial is that the
    development interests sought to purchase the election. How is that any different than Rockyview Gravel’s or Rockyview forward’s ad? It’s not. I have no idea who funds Rockyview gravel. To represent that it is different does not respect the intellect of the electorate.

    The electorate has had ample ability to review and be informed if desired. Time and again they have been free to make their choice. Sometimes this has swung to pro development candidates (Bruce Kendall, Rolly Ashdown, Eric Lowther) or residents first candidates (Al Sacuta, Jerrry Arshinoff).

    I freely cast my vote for Crystal Kissel. In the last election I voted for Bruce Kendall. Why did I vote for Bruce Kendall in 2013 if I didn’t support development? Well I met one of the alternatives who was more residents first and he really didn’t impress me in the slightest.

  • Brent said the County News should worry about other topics instead of editorializing about big developers funding attack ads.
    Do I worry about Rocky View Forward ads that did not endorse any candidate but spoke to ongoing issues in Rocky View? Most definitely not–however, RVF ads do concern Brent, who says does not have a vested interest in development.
    However, all those with a stake in good governance should be concerned when non-resident individuals or corporations come up with money to try and influence which councillors are elected/unelected.

  • Brent

    Opinion – You would think that any attempt at a news site would at least publish the election results before complaining about a full page ad in the RockyView Weekly. Don’t worry about pages 27 and 29 of this paper? Come on Enrique. Time to take off the tin foil hat. You have met me in person and I have no vested interest in further development of RVC. http://edition.pagesuite-professional.co.uk/html5/reader/production/default.aspx?pubname=&edid=25ae7ad1-357d-41be-859b-c19ed68b8a9f

    News – https://www.rockyview.ca/Government/Elections/PreviousElections/2017ElectionResults.aspx

  • Candidates who received contributions in cash or in services must disclose such contributions in a special form that must be submitted to the municipality by March 1, 2018. That is when the extent to which some candidates may have received corporate funding should be revealed.
    Disclosure has been in place only since 2010.
    In that sense, it’s an eye-opener to check contribution statements filed by candidates in the 2010 and 2013 elections, as well as the 2015 Div. 8 byelection.
    In rockyview.ca website go to Government, then click on Elections, then go to Previous Elections and scroll all the way down to find the candidates’ disclosure statements.
    Prior to 2010, candidates, elected or not, were not mandated to disclose any contributions.

  • AJ

    There smear campaign against Jerry Arshinoff will negatively impact of the residents of every division. It is so unfortunate what has happened. It was rumoured that Rocky View 2020 also funded advertisements for Colleen Munro – is there any truth to those?