Mid-February to mid-March saw a large number of complex public hearings. With many Council balls in the air, I reserved reporting to after Second Reading decision making. Council’s Agenda saw the Municipal Development Plan (MDP), the Springbank South Area Structure Plan (ASP), and the Springbank North ASP all scheduled for a single-day. Ultimately they required six full council meeting days to work through.
Video Submissions for Hearings: While County Hall is closed to public access, the video or audio submissions now allowed for public input are working extremely well. Compared to taking time away from work or family to come to County Hall to speak and being nervous addressing Council from the podium, folks can make their 5-minute video while more comfortable, at home or outside, and on their own time. Re-takes as necessary ensures a “submission-worthy” version is sent in.
Unlike regular written submissions, video enables folks to easily present face-to-face. When humans communicate, more than half the message conveyed is from visual cues, not just the words. While I read every submission for a hearing, I appreciated the extra effort taken to provide video submissions. I will be advocating to keep this form of presenting to Council after County Hall reopens.
Second Reading Draft Plans: On 6-3 votes, draft versions of the Municipal Development Plan and the two Springbank ASPs passed second readings. Council then unanimously instructed Administration to put them to Calgary Municipal Region Board for approval. A recurring theme amongst the updated statutory documents was the relaxation of rules that historically had been “shall” statements replaced with “should” statements. Unless in direct contravention of Statutory Provincial Legislation, this was thoroughly applied with a broad brush across virtually all policy statements.
The MDP provides over-arching development policy where there are no ASPs or Concept Plans. This relaxation purposely allows for any development anywhere, wholly at Council’s discretion. My debate commented that loosey- goosey development would negatively impact our developer community already invested or planning for growth in our existing ASPs. There will no longer be a level playing field with well-defined rules going forward. Business likes minimal risk and certainty when making investment decisions. Critical thinking also led to my questioning of Council approval of use of “should” with regards to policy honouring our contractual Inter- municipal Development Agreements with our neighbours.
Both Springbank ASPs saw major last- minute amendments by Councillors, with minimal public scrutiny. I will save comments on these two plans until next report. As they sit now, the combined ASPs allow for 55,000 additional residents – three times the forecast growth for the entire County.
I did not support second reading of these plans, as neighbouring municipalities had clearly informed us that they wanted more negotiation for increased certainty in a number of our policy areas that impact them directly. Updating these plans has required significant financial investment by the County, and I did not want to see them purposefully fail.
Mountain Ash Application Approved: Despite overwhelming opposition, the Summit gravel pit in Division 9 was approved 6-3 with Councillors Kissel, Wright and me in opposition. Alberta Environment and Parks had asked the County to either impose a 1.6km setback from the Big Hill Springs Provincial Park or conduct a third-party assessment on potential impacts to the aquifer and downstream fish habitats. The Council majority supported the notion that the applicant’s studies provided all assurances.
Please e-mail me if you would like to be added to my e-mail list for potential future online communications
Councillor, Division 3
Kevin.Hanson@RockyView.ca or call 403.463.1166.