Early in the pandemic, Rocky View County (RVC) council set up an Economic Recovery Task Force. Chief Administrative Officer Al Hoggan, who chaired the task force, presented its report at council's Nov. 10 meeting. Its key recommendation is for a comprehensive marketing plan to promote the County. The task force sees this as critical because many who live here and who might invest here don’t realize RVC is separate from the region’s towns and cities.
The task force’s observation helps explain the unprecedented number of requests to waive the County’s 12 per cent penalty on late property tax payments. The last two council meetings had 12 such requests and there are at least another 15 to 20 coming forward. Some residents confused RVC’s and Calgary’s deferred due dates – Aug. 31 versus Sept. 30. The County’s implementation of its deferral obviously missed the mark.
It is not clear why council set a different due date than Calgary – being unique isn’t always a good thing. However, after doing so, the County should have ensured its unique message was communicated effectively.
It is not surprising that residents missed the difference in due dates. The only regular source for RVC specific news is this newspaper. However, since the County ceased all newspaper advertising, there had been no local reminders.
Instead, County residents were inundated by Calgary-based media full of reminders that property taxes were due Sept. 30. RVC's unique message was only provided in May’s tax notices and on the County’s website.
At the Nov. 10 meeting, Couns. Kevin Hanson, Crystal Kissel, Al Schule and Samanntha Wright tried to convince their colleagues to show some compassion and address the due date confusion. Schule and Kissel brought forward motions to provide relief for ratepayers who had paid by Sept. 30. It appeared briefly as though their efforts might succeed. However, after administration’s comments about the complexity of the request, the majority refused to consider changes to provide leniency for these ratepayers.
Refusing to address this confusion is incomprehensible given that council had just heard the task force’s presentation. In the context of its message that people don’t realize RVC is a separate municipality, comments from the majority were eye-opening. Reeve Daniel Henn insisted that this was a terrible road to go down. Deputy Reeve Kim McKylor saw it as opening a can of worms. Coun. Greg Boehlke went so far as to say the County is not the Salvation Army.
This task force message is damning in other ways as well. The majority on council insisted that the Calgary Metropolitan Region Board should be eliminated because RVC residents don’t see themselves as part of the region. We’re not sure how that message fits with the task force’s observations that people don’t realize RVC is a separate municipality. Despite the change in council’s leadership, the majority appears to continue to speak out of both sides of its mouth.
Rocky View Forward