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.