Welcome High Country News Readers: Hopefully January finds you and your extended families well. Springbank and Elbow Valley residents have asked for more of my thoughts on the governance of Rocky View County, and background on my decision making. Luckily, HCN found space for a column for Division 3 going forward.
I take the COVID-19 pandemic very seriously, which my debate supports. I found Administration’s decision to close the County Hall in early December and move public hearings into the new year prudent. It gives us time to better understand COVID- 19’s second wave and ensure we are not negatively impacting the situation. New procedures for how the Public participates in on-line public hearings was formulated December 12th, details are available on the County website.
RVC “Keep the Lights On” 2021 Budget: In closing out the year, Council’s major task was approving 2021’s base budget. Council directed Administration to look for ways to cut expenses with minimum impact to service levels. The draft budget for debate had a target of 0% tax increase. This required looking for new efficiencies and areas to trim given the “new realities” for 2021.
By reducing investments in preventative maintenance, Administration recommended areas where service levels could be decreased without any long-term impact to County infrastructure. Ditch spraying and maintenance, lengthened time between gravel road resurfacing, and eliminating mosquito control were suggested.
While I could not support a County funded mosquito program for only some residents in Langdon and Church Ranches (Bearspaw), I did vote for it, on the contingency that a County- Wide policy would be in place for 2022. I did not support a Council majority keeping the preventative gravel surfacing budget status quo at prior years’ levels. Given our trimming efforts, the economic outlook, and sizeable 700K budget amount, I argued for decreasing our service standard from a 1 in 4 to about a 1 in 5-1/2 year average. Council finalized a 0.5% tax increase for the base budget, by putting the whole 700K back in.
Electoral Divisions for 2021: This is the final year of this Council’s four-year term. The Electoral Divisions’ review resulted in a reduction of Councillors from nine to seven. To meet requirements of the “Specialized Municipality” status we are seeking, the Division boundaries required adjustments to be more equally representative in terms of current and future projected population. Excepting Langdon, the new divisions all border Calgary, and radiate outward to our extremities.
Current Divisions 1, 2 & 3 are amalgamating into two new Divisions. Folks residing in Bragg Creek, Highway 8, Elbow Valley (where I live), and the southern parts of Springbank will constitute the new Division 1. The central and northern part of Springbank will constitute the new Division 2. For the full report on the electoral division study, and maps of the new divisions, please visit: www.rockyview.ca/elections.
As we are well into the second wave of the COVID-19 pandemic, town- hall style meetings continue to be a challenge. Please e-mail me if you would like to be added to my e-mail list for potential future communications.
Councillor, Division 3
Kevin.Hanson@RockyView.ca or call 403.463.1166.