Rocky View County’s (RVC) new public presentation committee had its first meeting on June 29, when council addressed three different presentations.
The trio of presentations included the Springbank Off-Stream Reservoir (SR1) Land Use Plan, wildlife projects and initiatives of Bragg Creek Wild, and the green impact partners of Future Energy Park.
Earlier this year, council created the public presentation committee to allow community groups, developers, landowners, non-profit organizations, or businesses to present their case to a committee of council in a less formal but timely manner, rather than presenting them during regular council meetings.
Each item is given 20 minutes to be presented, followed by a question period from the committee. The committee is not obligated to make any decisions on these presentations during the public presentation committee meeting.
First up, Alberta Environment and Parks (AEP) personnel presented their land use plan for secondary land uses to be located within the SR1 project boundary.
The SR1 project is a dry reservoir in the Springbank area that will serve as a temporary diversion of the Elbow River in the case of an extreme flood event.
According to the presentation, a Joint Land Use Advisory Committee is providing input and recommendations into the development of this land use plan, which involves Indigenous groups, local landowners, community associations, and other stakeholders, including the County.
After several questions about community involvement, the committee directed administration to prepare a report for presentation to council on or before July 26 that outlines how the County can best establish a position on the SR1 Land Use Plan through an administrative review and community consultation.
Bragg Creek Wild
Representatives from Bragg Creek Wild then presented info on their wildlife projects and initiatives, including the organization’s work, key issues affecting wildlife in the Bragg Creek community, and some of their previous successes.
The group’s representatives stated that with careful planning and foresight, Bragg Creek can become an exemplary mountain community where the environment, wildlife, and people are integrated in sustainable and healthy ways.
Particular areas of concern for Bragg Creek Wild include road safety, land use planning, and community awareness and education, according to the representative.
The presenter stated Bragg Creek’s roads have not been designed for the massive amount of traffic they see every year – traffic that increased amid the COVID-19 pandemic. She added there is degradation of wildlife habitat due to the berm project, deforestation in the Winter Green area, and high visitation to Kananaskis.
The group presented several initiatives to protect local wildlife and the environment, such as signage, building a way for animals and people to get over the berm to the river, sanctioning an orchid reserve, calming traffic with different road design and an intergovernmental-community working group to explore mitigation strategies on roads, as well as land use planning by engaging the community in the development of a planning process that consider wildlife habitat first.
Committee members followed up with questions on how to get involved before accepting the report for information.
Green Impact Partners
Representatives from Green Impact Partners presented their proposed Future Energy Park located at the junction of 84 Street SE and Frontier Road within the city of Calgary limits.
Though the park would be located in Calgary, constituents of the county were notified as part of the engagement process. The Future Energy Park is a net CO2 negative renewable biofuels facility that uses low-grade wheat to produce ethanol and renewable natural gas, said Jennifer Koole from RVC’s utility services.
The presentation described low-grade wheat being processed into ethanol for fuel-blending facilities, and wheat stillage being processed into renewable natural gas, which is then produced into anaerobic digesters used to make fertilizer and cattle feed and sold back to agriculture operators.
In response to committee questions, Trevor Joyal of Maskwa Environmental Consulting explained there is a gap in the ethanol produced in Alberta to meet the Alberta fuel standard, which is what the ethanol from this project will predominantly be used for. The anticipated use of low-grade wheat would come from the province.
He said the project would use this low value product and produce something useful, otherwise the wheat would likely be sitting there without much purpose.
“It’s definitely an exciting project, I’m just disappointed that you haven’t located it in Rocky View County itself,” said mayor Don Kochan.
RVC had several committees of council that accommodated public presentation requests in the past, including an infrastructure operations committee, a public services committee, the policy and priorities committee, and the governance and priorities committee. These previous committees with similar functions allowed for council to hear from groups in a less formal setting and allow for more discussion.
The governance and priorities committee came to an end in February 2020, due to the limited number of public presentations which they felt could be accommodated during council meetings at the time.