There are still a few days left for Rocky View County residents to submit their feedback regarding the Calgary Metropolitan Region Board’s (CMRB) draft regional growth plan.
The CMRB has been undergoing public engagement for its most recent draft plan since March 18, with a deadline of April 8 to participate in a survey on the inter-municipal board's website.
“We encourage everyone to go to Calgarymetroregion.ca and participate in the online survey about the draft growth plan,” said Jordon Copping, the chief officer of the CMRB.
Since 2018, elected officials from 10 municipalities in the Calgary area have been putting together a regional growth plan to guide future development in the region, with the objective of accommodating a projected influx of up to a million more residents in the coming years. The CMRB includes Calgary, Airdrie, Chestermere, Cochrane, Strathmore, High River and Okotoks, as well as rural partners Foothills County, Rocky View County and Wheatland County.
According to its website, the CMRB's mandate is to support long-term sustainability, with a focus on environmentally responsible land-use planning, growth management and efficient use of lands, The board also aims to develop policies regarding the coordination of regional infrastructure investment and service delivery.
“As municipalities continue to grow, urban and rural development areas are converging and boundaries between municipalities have become blurred,” stated a post on cmrbgrowthplan.ca. “As the region adds another million people, greater cooperation among all the municipalities that make up the Calgary Metro Region will be needed to create a resilient and globally competitive region.”
The key features of the draft include preferred place-types and preferred growth areas, according to CMRB’s website. The draft plan states new development will “only happen in prescribed areas rather than an ad hoc way, with the exception of local employment areas and small subdivisions.”
In developing its regional growth plan, CMRB’s website states the board is aiming for a plan that results in a 23 per cent drop in water consumption, a 36 per cent reduction in cost for new infrastructure, a 41 per cent decrease in land consumption, a 31 per cent drop in kilometres travelled by vehicle and a 27 per cent decrease in carbon consumption per household.
The objective hasn’t been without opposition. The municipal councils of the three rural partners – Rocky View County, Wheatland County and Foothills County – have all voiced opposition to the plan. In a letter to RVC council in February, Wheatland County Reeve Amber Link stated the county located east of RVC has “grave concerns” about the draft plan. Link claimed the plan will bring additional bureaucracy that will stifle economic development in rural areas.
“The entire plan is based on a premise we fundamentally disagree with,” she wrote. “It is reprehensible to us that we are putting forward a statutory plan that will drive investment out of Alberta.”
South of Calgary, Foothills County has expressed similar concerns about the regional growth plan, arguing it does not present a level playing field for the three counties within the plan.
“This draft plan limits development forms to red-tape-ridden exercises that don’t work for the County, including the densities are too high, there’s no employment areas, there’s caps and locations issues,” said Foothills County Reeve Suzanne Oel in February.
“This also duplicates what we already have in place with cost-sharing agreements, [inter-municipal development plans] and other agreements, and effectively creates problems where there aren’t any in order to justify what we would call an overburdening regional plan.”
Copping acknowledged there have been differing opinions on the growth plan’s benefits from the various member municipalities.
“However, the important thing to keep in mind is that the reason we're building the plan is to be able to figure out details that are regional in nature,” he said.
“As we do regional planning, we're looking for areas where, if we know we're going to grow and how we're going to grow, it creates the opportunity for efficiencies in planning, delivering services and really maximizing the dollars. That's really the whole reason we're here.”
In addition to the online survey, the CMRB is hosting virtual open house sessions on April 6 from noon to 1:30 p.m. and on April 8 from 7 to 8:30 p.m. Copping said the April 6 session will pertain to how the growth plan will impact business, while the follow-up session will discuss the environment. A previous open house was held March 30 and touched on community, according to Copping. He added agendas for the CMRB meetings are all online and meetings are streamed on YouTube.
—With files from the Okotoks Western Wheel and the Cochrane Eagle