The Calgary Regional Partnership presented a key planing document at its annual general meeting, June 25.
The 10-Year Economic Development Strategy will guide business retention, growth and attraction efforts in hopes of creating jobs in the region.
“What we have presented today is so key to the future of our region, and I wish I could help people understand that better,” said Linda Bruce, CRP chair.
“I take comfort in the fact that we have a great group of 15 municipal members who are so committed to working together to bring future success to the region.”
A committee of 16 members, which included a mix of elected officials and member municipality staff, oversaw preparation of the document.
It took two years and several studies to create.
“Economic development was the reason we got together in the beginning,” said Bruce, adding that the region has to work collaboratively on projects, such as a regional transit system, to create future success.
“We are at that point as a region that we have to seriously ask if we are meeting the transportation needs of our people,” said Bruce.
“It is not a luxury item, it is an absolutely must do.”
Minister of Transportation Luke Ouellette attended the meeting to discuss the Green Transit Incentives Program, a provincial grant program that will provide $800 million to Calgary and surrounding area for public transit.
He was impressed with the cooperation of the organization.
“We believe strongly in collaboration and communication,” said Ouellette.
“I think the CRP is a great organization and it makes my job easier when I can go to them and they already know what they need for the region.”
He said the rural Counties of Rocky View, Foothills and Wheatland that chose not to join the CRP, were still eligible for the funding.
However, he is hoping over time they will rejoin the organization.
“I believe that, in time, these municipalities will see that working together is the better way to go, and I think you might see them even join back up,” said Ouellette.
“If they have a better plan than someone else, I am sure they will get some funding.”
Bruce said it would be wonderful to have the whole region working together to plan for the future, but the absence of the three counties doesn’t affect the partnership much, as it is more about what goes on in each municipality.
“Fundamentally, we recognize that it would be fantastic to have everybody in here working together and going down the same road together and sharing the opportunities,” said Bruce.
“We want to be whole as a partnership and have our regional neighbours part of it, but on the ground…their absence isn’t felt right now.”
She said the Province wants regional partnerships and may approach the Counties about resolving their issues.
“The Province is working towards these regional zones,” said Bruce.
“At some point, I am imaging the Province will be having that discussion with them and letting them know that they need to resolve the issues so they are part of the partnership.”
The CRP includes representatives from 15 municipalities in the Calgary region and includes communities ranging in size from Beiseker, Redwood Meadows and Banff to larger members such as Calgary, Cochrane and Airdrie.
Its guiding document, the Calgary Metropolitan Plan (CMP), was adopted last year.
“The CMP is the plan of how we are going to address growth in the region,” said Bruce.
“We are expecting about 1.5 million people in the region in the next 50-75 years. How do we plan for that?”